How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Course Near Florence Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Florence AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as 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 finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Florence AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence Alabama dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical 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 get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options 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 comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers adequate 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, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive 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 create professional relationships in the Florence AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges 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 Florence AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask 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 verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Florence AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Florence Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.