How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College near Tuscumbia Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Tuscumbia AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, including the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional 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 roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties 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 independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tuscumbia AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tuscumbia 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% 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 Tuscumbia AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscumbia AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuscumbia AL dental practices typically 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 Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscumbia AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get 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 form professional relationships in the Tuscumbia AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscumbia AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Tuscumbia AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tuscumbia AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Tuscumbia AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Tuscumbia Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal 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 you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning 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 provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscumbia Alabama.