How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Maricopa AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the school'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 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 schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting 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 Maricopa AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Maricopa Arizona dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Maricopa AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Maricopa AZ employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough 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, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Maricopa AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive 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 Maricopa AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Maricopa AZ dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Maricopa AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers 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 amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Maricopa AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Maricopa AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Maricopa Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative 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 a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented 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 Maricopa Arizona.