How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Flagstaff AZ is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing 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 consider also, 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 accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Flagstaff AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Flagstaff AZ dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff AZ, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. 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 include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Flagstaff AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.