How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Florence Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Florence AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program'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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties 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 Florence AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence Alabama dental practices are often required to have 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 virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Topics 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, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Florence AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Florence Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.