How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Northport Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Northport AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Northport AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsDue to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Northport Alabama dental offices are usually 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 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional 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 clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical 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 kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Northport AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Northport Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want 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 options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.