How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Auburn Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Auburn AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Auburn AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending 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 and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Auburn Alabama dental practices are usually 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 almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Auburn AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies 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 necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, 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 included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Auburn AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Auburn AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Auburn AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Auburn AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Auburn AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Auburn AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Auburn AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Auburn Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama.