How to Select a Dental Hygienist Program near Shelby Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist training near Shelby AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to 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 closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Shelby AL practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Shelby AL dental office and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Shelby AL area junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Shelby AL area community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Shelby AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Shelby AL area colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Shelby AL typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Shelby AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Shelby AL college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Shelby AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Shelby AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Shelby AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Shelby AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Hygienist?When preparing to interview for a Dental Hygiene job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Dental Hygiene prospects is "What made you choose Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to Hygiene, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding Dental Hygienist and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Shelby AL
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Shelby AL.
A Bit About Shelby Alabama
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County is included in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County has a long history in agriculture, and since about 1990, it has become an important location for growing soybeans, which has exceeded cotton as the most important crop grown there.
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