How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Coolidge Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Coolidge AZ is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Coolidge AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After 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 Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Coolidge AZ dental practices are normally 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 virtually 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Coolidge AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Coolidge AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives 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 looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Coolidge AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Coolidge AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Coolidge AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Coolidge AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Coolidge AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Coolidge AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Coolidge AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Best Coolidge Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Coolidge Arizona.