How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Prattville Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Prattville AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prattville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prattville Alabama dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides enough 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, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Prattville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, 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 have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Prattville Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.