How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Maricopa Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Maricopa AZ is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 Maricopa AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters 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 duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Maricopa Arizona dental practices are often 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Maricopa AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Questions 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program 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. Maricopa AZ employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Maricopa AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Maricopa AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Maricopa AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Maricopa AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Maricopa Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to acquire 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona.