How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Prattville Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Prattville AL is an important 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 much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prattville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prattville Alabama dental practices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Prattville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Prattville Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist course 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 many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared 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.