How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Mesa Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Mesa AZ is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job 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 Mesa AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal 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 area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After 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 Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Mesa 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mesa AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mesa AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several 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 furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mesa AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Mesa AZ dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mesa AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Mesa AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials 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 available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mesa AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Mesa AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Mesa Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona.