How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Litchfield Park Arizona
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Litchfield Park AZ is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, including 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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Litchfield Park AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Litchfield Park AZ dental offices are usually 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 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Litchfield Park AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting 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 clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Litchfield Park AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools 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 due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Litchfield Park AZ dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. 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? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Litchfield Park AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical 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 form 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 schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Litchfield Park AZ dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Litchfield Park AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Litchfield Park AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Litchfield Park AZ in the evenings 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Litchfield Park Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is important 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 several alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain 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 attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Litchfield Park Arizona.