How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist School near Tuscumbia Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Tuscumbia AL is an important initial step toward beginning 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, including 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tuscumbia AL dental offices are generally required to hold 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 virtually 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Tuscumbia AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscumbia AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuscumbia AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscumbia AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscumbia AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Tuscumbia AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tuscumbia AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Tuscumbia AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Tuscumbia Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative 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 obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscumbia Alabama.