How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Huntsville Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider 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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Huntsville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville Alabama dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Huntsville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 create professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of 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. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Huntsville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.