How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Wetumpka Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Wetumpka AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Wetumpka 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 each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After 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 Education Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Wetumpka AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Wetumpka AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Wetumpka AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to 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 final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Wetumpka AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wetumpka AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Wetumpka AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Wetumpka AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Wetumpka AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Wetumpka AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Wetumpka AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Wetumpka Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect 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 Wetumpka Alabama.