How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider 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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Tuscaloosa AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must 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 may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Tuscaloosa Alabama dental offices 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Tuscaloosa AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask 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 discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuscaloosa AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscaloosa AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Tuscaloosa AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Tuscaloosa AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.