How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Albertville Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Albertville AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role 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 Albertville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Albertville Alabama dental practices are generally required to have 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Albertville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Albertville Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Albertville AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Albertville AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Albertville AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Albertville AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Albertville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Albertville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Albertville Dental Hygienist School
Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Albertville Alabama.