How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School near Apache Junction Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Apache Junction AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the program'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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Apache Junction AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Apache Junction AZ dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Apache Junction AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Apache Junction AZ, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to make 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 ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Apache Junction AZ dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Apache Junction AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Apache Junction AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Apache Junction AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Apache Junction AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses 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 add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Apache Junction AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Apache Junction AZ in the evenings 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Apache Junction Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect 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 better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Apache Junction Arizona.