How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Dothan Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Dothan AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Dothan AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Dothan 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dothan AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm 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? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting 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 will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dothan Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.