How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the school'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs 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 Education 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Vestavia Hills AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides 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, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher 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 position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out 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 need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Vestavia Hills AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.