Students in South Florida interested in earning a degree in dental hygiene have seven schools from which to earn an associate's degree in the field. The following paragraphs summarize what six of those schools offer. Programs take about two years to complete, and clinical experiences and fieldwork are incorporated into the curricula. Some programs are designed to allow graduates easy transfer to higher-level degree programs.
Fort Lauderdale-based Broward College offers an associate's degree program that prepares students for dental assisting and dental hygienist careers. Admission requires a high school diploma and a placement test. The program consists of a 10-month dental assisting program that must be completed first before applying to the 12-month dental hygiene program. Application to the dental hygiene program also requires the completion of prerequisite courses.
Classes in the dental assisting portion include dental anatomy and physiology, dental materials, dental radiography and preventive dentistry. General education courses, such as microbiology, chemistry and psychology, are also required before entering the dental hygienist portion. Students accepted into the dental hygiene program learn about dentistry concepts like oral diseases, anesthesia and dental pharmacology. Clinical work is also completed.
Florida SouthWestern State College
A dental hygiene program is offered at this college in Fort Myers. Admission into the program is limited, and applicants must first complete prerequisite classes like anatomy and physiology, chemistry and microbiology. The program takes 2 years to complete, and coursework must be taken in a specific order. Some of the first year courses cover dental anatomy, dentistry supplies, oral histology and pharmacology. While some pre-clinical labs and clinical courses are included in the first year, the majority of the clinical work is conducted during the second year.
Indian River State College
Located in Fort Pierce, this state college has an 88-credit-hour dental hygiene associate's degree program that requires applicants to complete a pre-admission test and prerequisite classes. This program takes 2 years to complete, and students gain instruction in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings. Classes may include microbiology, anesthesia, oral disease and dental radiography. While completing the program, students can gain hands-on, supervised training in the College Dental Clinic. Graduates are prepared for dental hygiene licensure exams or entry into 4-year degree programs.
Miami Dade College
At this school's medical campus in Miami, an associate's degree program in dental hygiene is available through the School of Health Sciences. Each year, the program starts in August, and individuals must submit their application materials by May 1. The admission process is selective, and each applicant is ranked according to certain criteria, such as GPA and the completion of specific prerequisite coursework.
It's recommended that students not hold employment while completing the program. Students complete clinical coursework at an assigned clinical facility in Miami and can expect to spend 8 hours per day during the week completing curricular requirements.
Palm Beach State College
Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth has a dental hygiene associate's degree program that begins in the fall term each year. The program prepares students for licensing through classes like oral histology, dentistry ethics, oral pathology, community dental care and dental anatomy. The curriculum also includes clinical requirements, which may be satisfied by working in the college's community dental clinic. Graduates may be able to transfer credits to the college's bachelor's degree program in supervision and management or take advantage of transfer agreements the college has with other schools.
South Florida State College
Avon Park's South Florida State College admits students into its Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program each fall term. Admission is selective, and students can make themselves competitive candidates by completing prerequisite classes with sufficient GPAs and acquiring 40 hours of observation hours, volunteer experience or professional experience. The curriculum teaches students to evaluate patients, use dental equipment, interpret diagnostic medical images and teach patients about preventive dental care.
Before someone can work as a dental hygienist in Florida, the individual must obtain licensure from the Florida Department of Health. Only qualified candidates who meet certain eligibility criteria are considered for this license. Individuals must be at least 18 years old and have graduated from programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA) or other dental hygiene programs approved by an agency accepted by the U.S. Department of Education. They must also pass the National Board of Dental Hygiene examination.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Broward College||4-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,753 in-state, $8,875 out-of-state*|
|Florida SouthWestern State College||4-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,401 in-state, $12,979 out-of-state*|
|Indian River State College||4-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,764 in-state, $10,201 out-of-state*|
|Miami Dade College||4-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,834 in-state, $9,661 out-of-state*|
|Palm Beach State College||4-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,444 in-state, $8,732 out-of-state*|
|South Florida State College||4-year, public; distant town||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,165 in-state, $11,859 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.