How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Flagstaff AZ is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at 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
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Flagstaff AZ employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify 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 must attend classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Flagstaff 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 numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.