How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Dothan Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Dothan AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the school'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to 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 provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Dothan AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually 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. 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 hygiene
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Dothan Alabama dental practices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and vocational 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dothan AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly 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 build professional relationships in the Dothan AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering 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 Dothan AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available 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 make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Dothan AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Dothan Dental Hygienist School
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.