New dental hygiene program approved at area college

Steve Snodgrass / CC BY 2.0 / MGN
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) -- Starting this fall, Jackson College will have a dental hygiene program.

Recently, a concern was raised about a shortage of dental hygienists to fill positions in the tri-county area.

“I am excited about the launching of Jackson College’s first dental hygiene program which is designed to better serve our community and our students,” said Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, Jackson College president. “Special thanks go to our Board of Trustees and Dr. Ed Mathein in particular, as well as Program Director Pat Guenther, for making this program and its accreditation possible. We are also excited about our ability to equip the lab with funding from The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program (CCSTEP). We are thrilled to welcome students to yet another career program at Jackson College.”

The dental hygienists will clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases and provide other preventive dental care. Phelan thinks the employment is expected to grow 10.7% nationally, creating an in-demand career.

“Our students will be graduating with an Associate in Applied Science degree in dental hygiene, which permits them to sit for all board exams necessary to get their dental hygiene license in Michigan or any state,” said Guenther. “I’ve had many students come to see me about enrolling in the program; there’s a lot of interest.”

The college has been developing the program and curriculum for just about a year and in October 2017 submitted a self-study for accreditation. Phelan tells us that the Commission sent site visitors to the College to assess the program’s compliance with the accreditation standards. He said the associate degree program will be a second-admit program, similar to nursing and other health careers, where students begin with prerequisites and then apply for admission to the dental hygiene program.

“For the College and community, we will have a dental hygiene clinic offering preventive services will be open to the public, with students as the clinicians. That will start in 2019,” Guenther said, referring to the lab in Justin Whiting Hall. “We’re looking forward to partnering with the dental community, especially the Center for Family Health, and getting out there in the community. This will be a great addition to the College.”

Enrollment is limited to 10 students.