How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Princeton Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Princeton AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing 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 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 Princeton AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Princeton Alabama dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Princeton AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school 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. Princeton AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Princeton AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get 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 form professional relationships in the Princeton AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Princeton AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Princeton AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Princeton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Princeton AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Princeton Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama.