How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Flagstaff AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Flagstaff AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work 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 teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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. Once 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 Education Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Flagstaff AZ dental offices are generally required to have 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 trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical 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, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching 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 Flagstaff AZ dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor 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 schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Flagstaff AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical 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 issues.
Pick the Best Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important 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 several options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.