How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Helena Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Helena AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Helena AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Helena Alabama dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Helena AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Helena AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Helena AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Helena Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.