How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene College near Gilbert Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Gilbert AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gilbert AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gilbert AZ dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gilbert AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for 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 online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gilbert AZ, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gilbert AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gilbert AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical 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 establish professional relationships in the Gilbert AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer 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, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Gilbert AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gilbert AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Gilbert AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Gilbert Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona.