How to Enroll In a Dental Hygienist Program near Calera Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Calera AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Calera AL practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform 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
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Calera AL dental practice and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Calera AL area junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Calera AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Calera AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Calera AL area schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Calera AL frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the Alabama school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Calera AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Calera AL school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Calera AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Calera AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Calera AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near your Calera AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygienist position, it's important to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask Dental Hygienist applicants is "What drove you to pick Hygiene as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a Dental Hygienist, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to Hygiene, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding Dental Hygienist and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Dental Hygienist College near Calera AL
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Calera AL.
A Bit About Calera Alabama
Calera is a city in Shelby and Chilton counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is the location of the Shelby County Airport.
As of the 2010 census Calera had a population of 11,620, more than tripling its total in 2000, making it the fastest-growing city in Alabama. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Calera is located in southern Shelby County at 33°06′27″N 86°45′00″W / 33.107572°N 86.749964°W / 33.107572; -86.749964. The city limits extend southward into Chilton County along U.S. Route 31, the main highway through the city. Interstate 65 passes through the eastern side of the city, with access from exits 228, 231, and 234.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.4 square miles (63.1 km2), of which 24.1 square miles (62.4 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2), or 1.17%, is water.
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