How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Birmingham AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, 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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing 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 in support of the Birmingham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Birmingham Alabama dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach 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 program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Birmingham AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Birmingham Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish 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 obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend 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 as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.