How to Pick a Dental Hygienist School near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Decatur AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs 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 provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Decatur AL practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Decatur AL dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many 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 & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Decatur AL area junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Decatur AL area community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Decatur AL area programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Decatur AL typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the Alabama college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Decatur AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Decatur AL college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Decatur AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Decatur AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Decatur AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near your Decatur AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Why Did You Want to Become a Dental Hygienist?When prepping to interview for a Dental Hygienist position, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask Dental Hygiene applicants is "What made you select 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 attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to Hygiene, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional Dental Hygienist and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Decatur AL
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur AL.
A Bit About Decatur Alabama
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, affectionately known as "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, cargo transit, and hi-tech industries such as General Electric, and the United Launch Alliance.
Initially the area was known as "Rhodes Ferry Landing", named for Dr. Henry W. Rhodes, an early landowner who operated a ferry that crossed the Tennessee River in the 1810s at the present-day location of Rhodes Ferry Park. The city was incorporated as Decatur in 1821. It was named in honor of Stephen Decatur; after he was killed in a duel in 1820, President Monroe directed that the Alabama town be named for him.
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