How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Florence Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Florence AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far 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 consider also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer 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 looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Florence AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence Alabama dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Florence AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes 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, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical 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 substantial 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Florence AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Florence Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential 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 a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning 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 in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.