How to Choose a Dental Hygienist College near Phoenix Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Phoenix AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Phoenix AZ practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Phoenix AZ dental practice and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Arizona dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Phoenix AZ area community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Phoenix AZ area trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Phoenix AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Arizona programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Phoenix AZ area colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Phoenix AZ often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited Arizona colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Arizona school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Phoenix AZ dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select offers sufficient 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, confirm that the Phoenix AZ program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Phoenix AZ dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phoenix AZ dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Arizona programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example 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 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Phoenix AZ.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Phoenix AZ home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene position, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask Dental Hygiene applicants is "What drove you to select Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Dental Hygienist, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to Hygiene, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must ready some approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional Dental Hygienist and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Enroll in the Right Dental Hygienist College near Phoenix AZ
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA 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 period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phoenix AZ.
A Bit About Phoenix Arizona
Phoenix (/ˈfiːnɪks/) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arizona. With 1,615,017 people (as of 2016[update]), Phoenix is the fifth most populous city nationwide, the most populous state capital in the United States, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.
Phoenix is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is a part of the Salt River Valley. The metropolitan area is the 12th largest by population in the United States, with approximately 4.3 million people as of 2010[update]. In addition, Phoenix is the seat of Maricopa County and, at 517.9 square miles (1,341 km2), it is the largest city in the state, more than twice the size of Tucson and one of the largest cities in the United States.
Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers, Phoenix incorporated as a city in 1881. Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate. Despite this, its canal system led to a thriving farming community, many of the original crops remaining important parts of the Phoenix economy for decades, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus, and hay (which was important for the cattle industry). Cotton, cattle, citrus, climate, and copper were known locally as the "Five C's" of Phoenix's economy. These industries remained the driving forces of the city until after World War II, when high-tech companies began to move into the valley and air conditioning made Phoenix's hot summers more bearable.
The city averaged a four percent annual population growth rate over a 40-year period from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s. This growth rate slowed during the Great Recession of 2007–09, and has rebounded slowly. Phoenix is the cultural center of the Valley of the Sun, as well as the entire state.
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