How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Hueytown Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Hueytown AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Hueytown AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hueytown Alabama dental offices are normally 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 complete 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Hueytown AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hueytown Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hueytown AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Hueytown AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Hueytown AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Hueytown AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Hueytown AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume 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 significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hueytown AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Hueytown AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Hueytown Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative 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 numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hueytown Alabama.