How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene College near Prescott Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Prescott AZ is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prescott AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering 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 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 licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prescott AZ dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 vocational 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prescott AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed 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 provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prescott AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although 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 reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prescott AZ dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers 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, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prescott AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get 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 Prescott AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges 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 Prescott AZ dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Prescott AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prescott AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Prescott AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Prescott Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, 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 obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect 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 Prescott Arizona.