How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Tarrant Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Tarrant AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Tarrant AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tarrant AL dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Tarrant AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tarrant AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tarrant AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Tarrant AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Tarrant AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Tarrant AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Tarrant AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tarrant AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Tarrant AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tarrant Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tarrant Alabama.