How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Oxford Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Oxford AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the school'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 discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Oxford AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. 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 Education OptionsAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Oxford 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oxford AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online 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 school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Oxford AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oxford AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Oxford 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 Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm 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 must attend classes near Oxford AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.