How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Prichard Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Prichard AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as 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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Prichard AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Issues 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 beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prichard AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prichard AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Prichard AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Prichard Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.