How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Phoenix Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Phoenix AZ is an important 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 performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the college'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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Phoenix AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Phoenix AZ dental practices are normally required to have 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 nearly 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Phoenix AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phoenix AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phoenix AZ dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Phoenix AZ dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Phoenix AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Phoenix AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Phoenix AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phoenix AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Phoenix AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Phoenix Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phoenix Arizona.