How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Florence Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Florence AL is an important first 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% 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 comfort of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers 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 enroll in an online school, 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 need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Florence Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.