How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Flagstaff AZ is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Flagstaff AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the 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 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 may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 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 regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Flagstaff Arizona dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.