How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School near Litchfield Park Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Litchfield Park AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job 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 in support of the Litchfield Park AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Litchfield Park AZ dental offices are normally 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 finish 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program 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 component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Litchfield Park AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office 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 style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Litchfield Park AZ, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Litchfield Park AZ dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides enough 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 college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Litchfield Park AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Litchfield Park AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Litchfield Park AZ dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Litchfield Park AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Litchfield Park AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Litchfield Park AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Litchfield Park Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly 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 usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Litchfield Park Arizona.