How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Northport Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Northport AL is an essential first step toward starting 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
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 covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Northport AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Northport AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Northport AL at nights 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 making your inquiries, 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 Northport Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing 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 choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.