How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near El Mirage Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near El Mirage AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the college'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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental 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 offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in El Mirage AZ dental offices 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 finish 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your El Mirage AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in El Mirage AZ, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. El Mirage AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local El Mirage AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 create professional relationships in the El Mirage AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the El Mirage AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the El Mirage AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the El Mirage AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near El Mirage AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right El Mirage Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in El Mirage Arizona.