How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Helena Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Helena AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 in support of the Helena AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Helena Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Helena AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. 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 needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
What 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 schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, 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 guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Helena AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in offers sufficient 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, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Helena AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Helena 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 have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Helena Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.