How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Mobile Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Mobile AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the college'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 expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Mobile AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. 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 Training OptionsBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Mobile Alabama dental practices are normally 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 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Mobile AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically 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 provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school 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. Mobile AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants 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 programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain 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 Mobile AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mobile AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting 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 feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Mobile AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Mobile Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively 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 schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing 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 better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.