Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Minnesota
Dental hygiene is a vital part of any individual’s overall health care. For this reason, the demand for skilled dental hygienists is rapidly growing, making this field very promising to those individuals who are interested in a long-term and financially rewarding career. This is especially true in Minnesota, which is currently enjoying dramatic economic and demographic growth.
What is Dental Hygiene?
Put simply, dental hygiene is the process of cleaning the patient’s teeth. This process is important in ensuring that the teeth and gums remain healthy and free of infection. In fact, individuals who do not receive regular teeth cleanings are more likely to suffer from tooth decay, gum infections and other forms of mouth disease. Finally, dental hygiene can ensure that the patient’s teeth remain white, which can improve his or her employment and personal prospects. Most dental hygienists work as part of a larger dental practice and are supervised by a licensed dentist.
Dental Hygienists and the Job Market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that licensed dental hygienists enjoy excellent job prospects. In fact, the BLS currently estimates that there will be over 256,000 dental hygienist positions available by 2022, representing a 33 percent increase over the number of jobs available in 2012. This rate of job growth far exceeds the job growth rate of most other professions, making field an excellent choice for those individuals seeking to enter a field with excellent job prospects.
Furthermore, dental hygienists enjoy excellent salaries and benefits. In Minnesota, the annual median wage for dental hygienists exceeds $70,000. In addition, most dental hygienists enjoy excellent benefits, including health insurance and paid vacation time.
Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Minnesota
Individuals wishing to become a dental hygienist in Minnesota must be licensed by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. The Board requires that anyone seeking a license to have the following qualifications:
• Be 18 years of age or older.
• Have graduated from high school or obtained an equivalent degree.
• Have completed an approved dental hygiene program.
• Have completed the National Board Examination, clinical exam and state jurisprudence exam.
Dental Hygiene Programs
Most dental hygiene programs are provided by community colleges. These programs usually take approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. Upon graduation, the student is awarded an associate’s degree. In addition to allowing the student to take the state examinations to become a licensed dental hygienist, an associate’s degree can also be used as a starting point to obtain a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college.
Dental hygiene programs cover a wide range of subjects and are designed to give their graduates a firm grounding in the practice of dental hygiene, in addition to the skills they will need to work with other dental professionals. A major part of any dental hygienist’s courses will be the study of periodontology. This field trains the student in how to detect and diagnose gum disease.
The Importance of Accreditation
It is vital that all students ensure that their programs have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation. Minnesota will not accept an education obtained at a non-accredited school. Because schools must periodically renew their accreditation, any student planning on entering the program should verify that the school is currently in good standing with the Commission on Accreditation.
Minnesota currently requires that anyone seeking licensure as a dental hygienist pass the National Board Examination, clinical examination and the state jurisprudence examination. These three tests are designed to ensure that the student has all the academic and practical skills needed to provide effective and safe care to his or her clients. In addition, the jurisprudence examination will test the candidate’s understanding of his or her duties and rights under Minnesota law.
Licensure by Credential
For those individuals who have been trained as dental hygienists but who have not obtained a licensure in Minnesota there is the option for licensure by credential. In order to be licensed via this method, the candidate must have the following qualifications:
• The candidate must have either currently have or previously held a license in another state or Canadian Province. Individuals who have had their licenses revoked for cause are unlikely to qualify for licensure by credential.
• He or she must have passed a board approved clinical examination for licensing in another state or Canadian Province.
• Have at least 2,000 hours of active practice within the previous 36 months.
• Finally, this form of licensure will involve an interview with the Board in order to ensure that the candidate qualifies for licensure in Minnesota.
Becoming a dental hygienist can be an excellent choice for individuals seeking to enter a professionally and personally rewarding career. Not only is this an excellent first choice for a medical career, but it is also a rewarding opportunity for those individuals who are seeking a more fulfilling career than their current job provides.