Medical careers are extremely popular; however, many of them take several years of training before people can begin working.
There are some medical careers that do not take long to train for though, and one of them is dental hygiene.
To become a dental hygienist in Massachusetts, you only have to train for two years. If this sounds perfect to you, read on to find out how you can join this valuable team of professionals.
One of the most basic requirements you will have to meet if you want to become a hygienist is to earn your high school diploma. This is an entrance requirement for all colleges and universities in Massachusetts. If you are not in high school or do not have a diploma, you can enroll in a GED program if you wish.
There are also a few personal skills that you will need for a job as a hygienist. Two of the most valuable personal skills you will need include communication and “people” skills. These skills will help you deal with the large variety of patients you will be dealing with each day.
Today’s dental hygienists are responsible for many more tasks than those of the past. No longer do hygienists simply clean teeth. Today, they can be found conducting laboratory duties, answering phones, scheduling appointments and assisting during dental procedures. With that said, you must know how to multi-task and prioritize.
Massachusetts Schools for Dental Hygiene
When looking for a college or university, make sure that their dental hygiene program is approved by the American Dental Association. There are several schools in Massachusetts that meet this criteria. While some of these schools offer associate degrees in dental hygiene, some do offer bachelor degrees.
- Bristol Community College – Fall River
- Cape Cod Community College – West Barnstable
- Middlesex Community College – Bedford
- Mount Wachusett Community College – Gardner
- Springfield Technical Community College – Springfield
- Boston University – Boston
- Mount Ida College – Newton
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services – Boston
- Quinsigamond Community College – Worcester
- North East University – Boston
General Education Requirements
During your dental hygiene training, you will need to complete a curriculum containing various general education and occupation-related courses. Some of these courses are standard to all dental hygiene programs, and others may vary slightly depending upon placement scores and schools. However, some typical general education courses are as follows.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- General Nutrition
- Elements of Microbiology with Lab
- Fundamentals of Public Speaking
- English Composition
- General Psychology
- Principles of Sociology
- Introduction to Statistics
- Biochemistry with Lab
As stated above, the occupation-related courses that you will need to complete may vary depending upon the school that offers the program. However, there are some courses that are standard to most all dental hygiene programs, no matter where they are offered. These classes are listed below.
- Dental Anatomy and Histology
- Dental Hygiene Theory and Clinics
- Dental Emergencies
- Head and Neck Anatomy
- Oral Radiology
- Pharmacology for Dental Hygienists
- Pain Management
- Oral Pathology
- Dental Materials
- Community Dental Health
The National Board Exam for Dental Hygienists
After you have earned your degree in dental hygiene, you must then apply for and pass the National Board Exam for dental hygienists. This is required before you can obtain a professional license. The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations of the ADA administers this exam at various locations throughout the year. Be sure that you meet the following criteria before you apply for the exam.
- Read the NBDHE Guide
- Create a DENTPIN
- Completed Examination Application
- Exam Fee
- Two Forms of ID
- Graduate of an ADA Approved Dental Hygiene Program
The Clinical Exam for Dental Hygienists
Before you can obtain your professional license, you will also need to prove your practical skills by passing the Clinical Exam for Dental Hygienists. In the state of Massachusetts, this test is given by the North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners, or NERB. This is a two-part test consisting of both a computer-based and practical exam.
You will need to pay an examination fee of $975 to take both parts of the test, and you must receive scores of at least 75 percent on each of them to pass. You must provide your own patients for the practical exam, and if you need to retake the test, you must pay an additional fee of $525 for each part of the exam you need to retake.
The Local Anesthesia and Nitrous Oxide Exams
Many testing organizations include these exams with the Clinical Exam. However, with the NERB, you will have to take them separately. Both of these exams are computer-based and consist of 50 multiple choice questions. You will need to pay a fee of $140 for the Local Anesthesia Exam and $135 for the Nitrous Oxide Exam. A score of at least 75 percent is required to pass.
The Jurisprudence Exam
The Jurisprudence Exam is an open-book type test that covers the legal aspects of dental hygiene careers. You can obtain a copy of this test and find all of the study material you need by visiting the Massachusetts Health and Human Services website. Some of the areas you will be tested on include the following.
- Massachusetts Laws Pertaining to Dentistry
- Infection Control in Dental Health
- General Industry Standards
- Ethics and Codes of Professional Conduct
- Guidelines for Use of Local Anesthesia
- Guidelines for Pain Control
- Guidelines for CPR
Massachusetts’ Dental Hygienist License
Once you have obtained your hygienist degree and passed all of the above exams, you will then be eligible for a professional license. You can apply for your license from the Massachusetts Division of Health Professions Licensure. You will need to complete the required application and meet the following requirements before you can receive your license.
- Licensing Application
- $126 Licensing Fee
- Completion of Hygiene Program and Transcripts
- Passing Scores on Written, Clinical and Jurisprudence Exams
- CPR Certification
- Physical Exam
- Two Character References
- Social Security Number
- Recent Passport Size Photo
- Notarized Signature
Massachusetts Hygiene Careers
If you want to begin a medical career in Massachusetts that does not require several years of training, a dental hygiene position may be the perfect answer. These professionals only need to train for two years before they can obtain their license. Additionally, since more dentists are relying on hygienists in their practices, dental hygiene careers are in great demand as well.