How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene College near Theodore Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Theodore AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the program'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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job 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 in support of the Theodore AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results 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
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Theodore AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Theodore AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Theodore AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied 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 many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Theodore AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Theodore AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Theodore AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Theodore AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Theodore AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Theodore AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Theodore Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Theodore Alabama.