How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Northport Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Northport AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 in support of the Northport AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Northport Alabama dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Northport AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Northport AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Northport Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.