How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist School near Oro Valley Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Oro Valley AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as 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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Oro Valley AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oro Valley AZ dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oro Valley AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening 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 also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many 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. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oro Valley AZ dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oro Valley AZ dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Oro Valley AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Oro Valley Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.