How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Daphne Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Daphne AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the college'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job 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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Daphne AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsDue to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Daphne Alabama dental offices are generally 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 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for receiving your education. 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 provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Daphne AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Daphne Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Daphne AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Daphne AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Daphne AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Daphne AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Daphne AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Daphne AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical 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.
Choose the Right Daphne Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend 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 acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Daphne Alabama.