How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools 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 a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Vestavia Hills AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Vestavia Hills AL dental offices are often required to have 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 nearly every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently 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 Vestavia Hills AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Vestavia Hills AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose 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 Vestavia Hills Alabama.