How to Choose a Dental Hygienist School near Gulf Shores Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Gulf Shores AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the college’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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gulf Shores AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gulf Shores AL dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well| A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gulf Shores AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gulf Shores AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gulf Shores AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check 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 Gulf Shores AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Gulf Shores AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Gulf Shores AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Gulf Shores AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required 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 illness, work or family issues.
Attending Dental Hygienist School near Gulf Shores AL?
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
Gulf Shores has a humid subtropical climate, with long, hot summers, and mild and sunny winters. With bright sunny summers and warm winters, Alabama Gulf Coast weather offers year-round opportunities for beach, fish, golf, and enjoying life. Winters are generally mild and residents can enjoy outside activities the majority of the time. Daily highs in winter are close to 60 °F (16 °C) and nighttime lows are near 40 °F (4 °C). Summers are hot, which makes for great beach weather and the sea breeze provides relief from the heat as well as humidity. Daytime highs in summer are near 90 °F (32 °C) and evening lows near 68 °F (20 °C). While the area enjoys a strong "snowbird" season from December to April, many locals say that May/June and October/November are the best months. Ocean surf temperatures are quite warm from May through November, often well into the low 80s.
Pick the Right Dental Hygienist School near Gulf Shores AL
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores AL.
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