How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Oro Valley Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Oro Valley AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, including 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Oro Valley AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oro Valley AZ dental offices are generally 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 virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Oro Valley AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Oro Valley AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oro Valley AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Oro Valley AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Oro Valley Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to acquire your training 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.