How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Prichard Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Prichard AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the school'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. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prichard AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 examinations. Once they have fulfilled 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 additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prichard Alabama dental practices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Prichard AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed 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 discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prichard AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prichard AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Prichard AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Prichard Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing 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 we have covered, there are several alternatives available to receive your education 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.