How to Choose a Dental Hygienist Program near Birmingham Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Birmingham AL practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Birmingham AL dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Birmingham AL area community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Birmingham AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great option 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 balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed 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 furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Birmingham AL area colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Birmingham AL frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Alabama college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Birmingham AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Birmingham AL college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Birmingham AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Birmingham AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near your Birmingham AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene position, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask Dental Hygienist prospects is "What made you decide on Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to Hygiene, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding Dental Hygienist and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Find the Right Dental Hygienist School near Birmingham AL
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham AL.
A Bit About Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
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