How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Cullman Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Cullman AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Cullman AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Cullman Alabama dental practices are generally required to hold 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Cullman AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Cullman Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Cullman AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Cullman AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Cullman AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Cullman AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Cullman AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Cullman AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Cullman Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Cullman Alabama.