How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Dothan Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Dothan AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Dothan AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dothan AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Dothan AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dothan Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.