How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tuscaloosa AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast 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 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Tuscaloosa AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tuscaloosa AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently 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 office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain 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 build professional relationships in the Tuscaloosa AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance 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 large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be 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 teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Tuscaloosa AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish 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 alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.