How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the program'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tuscaloosa AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Tuscaloosa AL dental offices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. 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 accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Tuscaloosa AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuscaloosa AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscaloosa AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Tuscaloosa AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Tuscaloosa AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.