How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist School near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Lake Havasu City AZ is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Lake Havasu City AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lake Havasu City AZ dental practices 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Lake Havasu City AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City AZ, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lake Havasu City AZ dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Lake Havasu City AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Lake Havasu City AZ dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Lake Havasu City AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lake Havasu City AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist 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 Lake Havasu City AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Lake Havasu City Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.