How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Picture Rocks Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Picture Rocks AZ is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program'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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties 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 in support of the Picture Rocks AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results 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 care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensing 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 Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Picture Rocks AZ dental practices 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Picture Rocks AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Picture Rocks AZ, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Picture Rocks AZ dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Picture Rocks AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical 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 build professional relationships in the Picture Rocks AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Picture Rocks AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Picture Rocks AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Picture Rocks AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Picture Rocks AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Picture Rocks Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering 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 asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Picture Rocks Arizona.