How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Alabaster Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Alabaster 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 far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Alabaster AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Alabaster Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Alabaster AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alabaster AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want 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 Alabaster AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 Alabaster AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Alabaster AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Alabaster AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Alabaster AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Alabaster AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, 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 because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Alabaster Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to receive 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend 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 ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama.