How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Decatur Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Decatur AL is an essential initial step toward beginning 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations 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 roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role 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 Decatur AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 examinations. 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 OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Decatur Alabama dental offices are often required to hold 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers adequate 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, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get 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 professional relationships in the Decatur AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Decatur AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? 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 will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, 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 have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Decatur Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right 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 we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training 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 normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.