How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene School near Smiths Station Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Smiths Station AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Smiths Station AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Smiths Station AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Smiths Station AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Smiths Station AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Smiths Station AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Smiths Station AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Smiths Station AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Smiths Station AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Smiths Station AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Smiths Station AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Smiths Station Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Smiths Station Alabama.