How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College Near Mobile Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Mobile AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover 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 look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Mobile AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mobile Alabama dental offices 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 finish 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Mobile 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. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mobile AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Mobile AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mobile AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Mobile AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Mobile Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.