How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Flagstaff Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Flagstaff AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Flagstaff AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Flagstaff AZ dental offices are often 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember 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 available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff AZ, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance 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 in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend 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 acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.