How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Tarrant Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Tarrant AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tarrant AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing 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 graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tarrant AL dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal 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 classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually 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 proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tarrant AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tarrant AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested 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 care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tarrant AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Tarrant AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tarrant AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Tarrant AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Tarrant Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tarrant Alabama.