How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Florence Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Florence AZ is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate 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 school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the college'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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Florence AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence Arizona dental practices are generally 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 finish 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Florence AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Arizona, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Florence AZ employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Florence AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing 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 Florence AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Florence AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Florence AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Florence AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Florence Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Arizona.