How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Catalina Foothills AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending 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 care
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Catalina Foothills Arizona dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Catalina Foothills AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies 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 clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Catalina Foothills AZ employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough 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, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Catalina Foothills AZ dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to obtain 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Catalina Foothills AZ dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Catalina Foothills AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Catalina Foothills AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Catalina Foothills AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical 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.
Pick the Right Catalina Foothills Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.