How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Gilbert Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Gilbert AZ is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to 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 offered.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gilbert AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gilbert Arizona dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gilbert AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical 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 get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gilbert AZ employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 select offers clinical rotation in a local Gilbert AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical 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 form professional relationships in the Gilbert AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Gilbert AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gilbert AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Gilbert AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Gilbert Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is essential 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 many options available to receive your training 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 community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona.