How to Choose a Dental Hygienist College near Columbiana Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Columbiana AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
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 dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Columbiana AL practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Columbiana AL dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Columbiana AL area community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Columbiana AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Columbiana AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Columbiana AL area programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Columbiana AL typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the Alabama school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Columbiana AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Columbiana AL college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Columbiana AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene schools require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Columbiana AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Columbiana AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near your Columbiana AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need 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 illness, work or family issues.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Hygienist?When prepping to interview for a Dental Hygienist position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask Dental Hygienist prospects is "What compelled you to pick Hygiene as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to Hygiene, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional Dental Hygienist and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Dental Hygienist College near Columbiana AL
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 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 or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Columbiana AL.
A Bit About Columbiana Alabama
Columbiana is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,197. The city is the county seat of Shelby County.
Columbiana, originally called Columbia, was selected as the county seat of Shelby County in 1826 over rivals Calera and Montevallo. After the selection as the county seat, Columbiana celebrated by drilling holes in a large pine tree and packing it with gunpowder. The tree was blown up and the sound could be heard for miles. Later in 1826, the courthouse was moved to an old school building in Columbiana.
An act of the Alabama Legislature officially changed the name of Shelby County's county seat to Columbiana on January 13, 1832. Columbiana was incorporated on December 5, 1837 with corporate limits one-quarter of a mile in each direction from the public square.
In 1854, the decision was made to build a larger courthouse at the south end of “Silk Stocking Road”, now Main Street. From 1854 to 1908 several additions and changes were made to the courthouse. During the American Civil War, Columbiana was connected to the nearby town of Shelby by the Shelby Iron Company Railroad, which connected the Shelby Iron Works to the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad. The Iron Works supplied iron to the C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, which moved to Columbiana in 1862 after the fall of Corinth, Mississippi. The Churchill foundry made eight and ten pound shot, eight and ten pound shells, and shells for Blakely rifles. The C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, Shelby Iron Works and the railroad were destroyed by Union forces on March 31, 1865, as part of Wilson's Raid.
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