How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Tuskegee Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Tuskegee AL is an essential 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 much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school'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. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tuskegee AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After 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
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tuskegee AL dental practices are normally 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 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 dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Tuskegee AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuskegee AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuskegee AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Tuskegee AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Tuskegee AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Tuskegee AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tuskegee AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Tuskegee AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Tuskegee Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuskegee Alabama.