How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Flagstaff AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, 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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of 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 often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Flagstaff Arizona dental practices are normally 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 nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Flagstaff AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Flagstaff AZ employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Flagstaff AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical 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 substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Flagstaff AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.