How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Drexel Heights AZ is an important initial step toward starting 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance 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 accomplish. Obviously 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 evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Drexel Heights AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically 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 also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Drexel Heights AZ dental offices are generally 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 almost 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Drexel Heights AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Drexel Heights AZ, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Drexel Heights AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Drexel Heights AZ dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Drexel Heights AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Drexel Heights AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Drexel Heights AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Drexel Heights 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 especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Drexel Heights 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Drexel Heights Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Drexel Heights Arizona.