How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Prescott Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Prescott AZ is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prescott AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prescott AZ dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Prescott AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prescott AZ, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prescott AZ dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Prescott AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Prescott AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prescott AZ dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Prescott AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prescott AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Prescott AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Prescott Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prescott Arizona.