How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College near Spanish Fort Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Spanish Fort AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Spanish Fort AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Spanish Fort AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Spanish Fort AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Spanish Fort AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Spanish Fort AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Spanish Fort AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Spanish Fort AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Spanish Fort AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Spanish Fort AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Spanish Fort AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Spanish Fort Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Spanish Fort Alabama.