How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Tuscaloosa AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Tuscaloosa Alabama dental practices are normally required to have 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 almost 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Tuscaloosa AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tuscaloosa AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscaloosa AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Tuscaloosa AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Tuscaloosa AL at nights 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 issues.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.