How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Fairhope Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Fairhope AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fairhope AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairhope Alabama dental offices are usually 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairhope AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened 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 necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairhope AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help 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 Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs 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 Fairhope AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fairhope 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 protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.