How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Tarrant Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Tarrant AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the school'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Tarrant AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tarrant AL dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion 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 college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tarrant AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning 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 are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tarrant AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Tarrant AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to obtain 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Tarrant AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Tarrant AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tarrant AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Tarrant AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Tarrant Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tarrant Alabama.