How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Huntsville AL is an important initial step toward beginning 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 doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program'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 accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at 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 contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Huntsville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 exams. When 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 Schooling OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville Alabama dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
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 prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program 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. Huntsville AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing 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 in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Huntsville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.