How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near El Mirage Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near El Mirage AZ is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the college'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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the El Mirage AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in El Mirage AZ dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your El Mirage AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed 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 furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in El Mirage AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. El Mirage AZ dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local El Mirage AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools 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 El Mirage AZ dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the El Mirage AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the El Mirage AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near El Mirage AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right El Mirage Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in El Mirage Arizona.