How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Florence Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Florence AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the school'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Florence AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out 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
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence AZ dental practices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Florence AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence AZ, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Florence AZ dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides 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 program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AZ dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional 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 Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Florence AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Florence AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Florence Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Arizona.