How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School 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 before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the program'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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role 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 in support of the Bessemer AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsDue to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Bessemer Alabama dental practices are usually required to have 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 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Bessemer AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bessemer AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Bessemer AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with 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 increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Bessemer AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Bessemer Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive 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 usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Bessemer Alabama.