How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Selma Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Selma AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties 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 in support of the Selma AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Selma Alabama dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Selma 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. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Selma AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Selma AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased 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 Selma AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses 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 Selma AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Selma AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Selma Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.