How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Drexel Heights AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Drexel Heights AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first 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 may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for 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 usually 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Drexel Heights AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice 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 dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Drexel Heights AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Drexel Heights AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Drexel Heights AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Drexel Heights AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Drexel Heights AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check 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 need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Drexel Heights AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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 emergencies.
Pick the Right Drexel Heights Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Drexel Heights Arizona.