How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Madison Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Madison AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the program'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 two to three years to complete. Obviously 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 schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Madison AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Madison Alabama dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Madison AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Madison AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide 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 kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Madison AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method 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 build professional relationships in the Madison AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at 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 Madison AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Madison AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Madison AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Madison AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Madison Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important 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 several alternatives available to receive 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama.