How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Lake Havasu City AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Lake Havasu City AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying 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 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 licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lake Havasu City Arizona dental practices are normally required to hold 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 virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Lake Havasu City AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided 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 a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lake Havasu City AZ employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Lake Havasu City AZ dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive 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 Lake Havasu City AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Lake Havasu City AZ dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Lake Havasu City AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lake Havasu City AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Lake Havasu City AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Lake Havasu City Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.