How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Course Near Prattville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Prattville AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. 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. 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 programs 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prattville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently 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 also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsDue to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prattville Alabama dental offices are generally required to hold 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 nearly 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Issues 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 opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of 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 school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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 Best Prattville Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.