How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Lake Havasu City AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles 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 main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Lake Havasu City AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When 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 Degree Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Lake Havasu City AZ dental offices are usually 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 virtually 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible 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 far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional 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 online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lake Havasu City AZ dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Lake Havasu City AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Lake Havasu City AZ dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Lake Havasu City AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be 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 selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Lake Havasu City AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two 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 elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.