How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Bessemer Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Bessemer AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Bessemer AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Bessemer Alabama dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Bessemer AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bessemer AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Bessemer AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bessemer AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Bessemer AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Bessemer Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama.