How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Selma Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Selma AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Selma AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting 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 gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When 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 Training OptionsDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Selma Alabama dental offices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Selma AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
Issues 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Selma AL employers frequently 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 obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Selma AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at 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 Selma AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Selma AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Selma AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Selma Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial 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 a number of options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented 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 Selma Alabama.