How to Choose a Dental Hygienist Program near Cullman Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Cullman AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance the school’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 depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Cullman AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Cullman AL dental practice and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Cullman AL area community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in Cullman AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Cullman AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Cullman AL area colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Cullman AL often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the Alabama college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Cullman AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Cullman AL program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Cullman AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Cullman AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Cullman AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near your Cullman AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Hygienist applicants is "What compelled you to decide on Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to Hygiene, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you would like to answer them. Because there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional Dental Hygienist and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal Dental Hygienist School near Cullman AL
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Cullman AL.
A Bit About Cullman Alabama
Cullman is a city in and the county seat of Cullman County, Alabama, United States. It is located along Interstate 65, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Birmingham and about 55 miles (89 km) south of Huntsville. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 14,775, with an estimated population of 15,496 in 2016.
In the time before European settlement, the area that today includes Cullman was originally in the territory of the Cherokee Nation. The region was traversed by a trail known as the Black Warrior's Path, which led from the Tennessee River near the present location of Florence, Alabama, to a point on the Black Warrior River south of Cullman. This trail figured significantly in Cherokee history, and it featured prominently in the American Indian Wars prior to the establishment of the state of Alabama and the relocation of several American Indian tribes, including the Creek people westward along the Trail of Tears. During the Creek War in 1813, General Andrew Jackson of the U.S. Army dispatched a contingent of troops down the trail, one of which included the frontiersman Davy Crockett.
In the 1820s and the 1830s, two toll roads were built linking the Tennessee Valley to present-day Birmingham. In 1822, Abraham Stout was given a charter by the Alabama Legislature to open and turnpike a road beginning from Gandy's Cove in Morgan County to the ghost town of Baltimore on the Mulberry Fork near Colony. The road passed near present-day Vinemont through Cullman, Good Hope, and down the current Interstate 65 corridor to the Mulberry Fork. The road was later extended to Elyton (Birmingham) in 1827. It then became known as Stout's Road. Mace Thomas Payne Brindley was given a charter in 1833 to turnpike two roads, one running between Blount Springs to Somerville by way of his homestead in present-day Simcoe, and the second road passing west of Hanceville and east of Downtown Cullman to join Stout's Road north of the city. What later became the Brindley Turnpike became an extension of Stout's Road to Decatur. Cullman later became located between the juncture of the two roads, and they predated the corridor of U.S. Route 31.
During the Civil War, the future location of Cullman was the site of the minor Battle of Day's Gap. On April 30, 1863, Union forces under the command of Colonel Abel Streight won a victory over forces under Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This battle was part of a campaign and chase known collectively as Streight's Raid. Although Streight got the upper hand in this battle, Forrest would have the last laugh. In one of the more humorous moments of the war, Streight sought a truce and negotiations with Forrest in present-day Cherokee County near present-day Gaylesville. Although Streight's force was larger than Forrest's, while the two were negotiating, Forrest had his troops march repeatedly in a circuitous route past the site of the talks. Thinking himself to be badly outnumbered, Streight surrendered to Forrest on the spot.
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