How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Valley Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Valley AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Valley AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees 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. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Valley AL dental offices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for obtaining 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 available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Valley AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Valley AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Valley AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Valley AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Valley AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Valley AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Valley AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Valley AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Valley Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Valley Alabama.