How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Huntsville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Huntsville AL is an essential first step toward launching 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 performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Huntsville AL practice and the dentists. 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 area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once 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 OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility as compared 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 two to as long as three 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Huntsville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed 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 dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching 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 Huntsville AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.