How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Wetumpka Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Wetumpka AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the program'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. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating 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 comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Wetumpka AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing 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 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can 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 Wetumpka AL dental practices are generally required to hold 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 nearly 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally 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 comfort of your Wetumpka AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Wetumpka AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Wetumpka AL dental practices typically prefer 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 programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wetumpka AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for 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 Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Wetumpka AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges 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 whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Wetumpka AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Wetumpka AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Wetumpka Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wetumpka Alabama.