How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Mobile Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Mobile AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Mobile AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mobile Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mobile AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mobile AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mobile AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Mobile AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Mobile Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.