How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Wetumpka Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Wetumpka AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Wetumpka AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present 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 nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Wetumpka AL dental practices are generally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Wetumpka AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
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 checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Wetumpka AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers adequate 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 program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Wetumpka AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive 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 build professional relationships in the Wetumpka AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs 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 Wetumpka AL dental community in addition to large 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 on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Wetumpka AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Wetumpka AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? 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 will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Wetumpka AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Wetumpka Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount 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 programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wetumpka Alabama.