How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist College near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, 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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Vestavia Hills AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result 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 virtually 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 sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Vestavia Hills AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.