How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene College Near Pelham Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Pelham AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Pelham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may 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
- Instructing patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing 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 in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Pelham Alabama dental offices are usually required to have 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Pelham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, 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. Pelham AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient 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. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Pelham AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Pelham AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pelham AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Pelham AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based 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 public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Pelham AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Pelham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Pelham Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama.