How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Hueytown Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Hueytown AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the college'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties 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 Hueytown AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities 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
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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hueytown Alabama dental offices are generally required to hold 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 almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hueytown AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hueytown Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hueytown AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hueytown AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way 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 develop professional relationships in the Hueytown AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hueytown AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Hueytown AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent 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 have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hueytown AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Hueytown AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Hueytown Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hueytown Alabama.