The Dental Hygienist career field in Florida is a fast growing field. To get started, one needs to be accepted by an accredited dental program. This is done by submitting high school transcripts or by taking a college entrance exam. Accredited colleges in Florida include Florida State College at Jacksonville, Pensacola Junior College, Hillsborough Community College, Miami Dade College, Broward College and Bevard Community College. These colleges are all accredited with the American Dental Association and require a minimum of 88 credit hours. Miami Dade College is one of the largest colleges in Florida offering the dental hygiene program in Florida.
The foundational courses in the dental hygienist program include clinical procedures, preventive oral hygiene, public health dentistry, dental anatomy, pharmacology, dental materials, instrumentation, nutrition and dental radiography. General education requirements include English Composition, Oral Communications, Humanities, Social Environment, Social Science, Computer Competency, Human Anatomy and Physiology and Lab, Microbiology and Lab and Chemistry for Health Sciences.
Florida’s State Requirements
Florida’s state laws require an applicant to be at least 18 years of age and a graduate of an accredited dental hygiene program which includes a minimum of an Associate of Science degree. Also the applicant attempting to become a dental hygienist must pass the board examination within 10 years of first applying.
Once graduated from an accredited school, the applicant must fill out an application that can be printed from the Florida’s Health Department’s website. The application will need to be filled out and mailed with the fee and supporting documents showing the requirements and credentials have been met. The website for the student to access the application is http://doh.state.fl.us/mqa/initial_licensure.html. The first step in passing the examination is taking the written exam. This examination is administered by the National Board of Dental Hygiene. This exam ensures the applicant knows all the state rules and laws governing the practice of dental hygiene in Florida.
The next step in passing the Florida state boards is to take the clinical examination. This is also called the practical exam. The clinical exam is two parts. The first part consists of a patient based exam. The hygienist will show knowledge of what will occur on an actual patient exam. The second part consists of a computer assisted assessment of simulated patients. This will show the hygienist’s knowledge of the material covered. This portion of the exam is given and graded by hygienists licensed in the state of Florida and working in this career field.
A Dental Hygienist applicant is required to complete both the written and clinical portions of the examination successfully within 13 months. If the required timeframe is not met, the applicant will not receive licensure. The applicant will then need to go through the entire process again. Also the applicant needs to pass the clinical portion by the third try. In the event the exam is not passed on the third attempt, the applicant will be ineligible to take the exam again. The only exception would involve completing additional college classes including academic and clinical coursework.
In order to take the Florida state board examination, the application is received with the required fees. There are two separate fees required for the examinations. The first fee is $350 payable to the Department of Health that includes the Application, Examination and Licensure fees. The second fee is an Examination Administration fee of $662. The application must be received completed with all the fees. The supporting documentation has up to 75 days to be received once the initial application has been filed.
Acquiring a Job
Once the required education and examinations are completed, the school has a great career guidance department to assist in acquiring a job in the required field. There are also continuing educational requirements for licensure renewal every two years. Dental Hygienists are required to complete 24 hours of continuing educational coursework. Requirements also include coursework on domestic abuse, CPR, HIV and AIDS.