How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Athens Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Athens AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Athens AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Athens Alabama dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for getting 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 remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Athens AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Athens AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Athens AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Athens AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Athens Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to acquire 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.