How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the college'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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed 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 provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college 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 condition in nearly all states. In order 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Vestavia Hills AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Vestavia Hills 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 Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical 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 costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Vestavia Hills AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.