Say Ah: New CCCC Dental Program Gets OK
Central Carolina Community College's new dental program is a "go."
The American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation notified the college Monday that the program has been granted "initial accreditation."
"The accreditation means that we have a very efficient, effective program to graduate competent dental assistants and dental hygienists," says Marsha Black, program director and lead instructor.
It also means that the first classes in dental assisting can start March 6. There are still student spaces available.
Dental assistants work with the dentist and may also manage the business side, depending on the size of the practice. They are trained to do work such as polishing and making and placing temporary crowns. They usually work a four-day week and make $16-$18 per hour to start. Students who enroll in the minimester session beginning March 6 can expect to graduate with a diploma in spring 2008.
The Dental Hygiene five-semester Associate in Applied Science degree program begins in August.
For more information on either program, contact Lara Manton, admissions counselor, at 919-718-7234 or email@example.com.
In accrediting the CCCC Dental Program, the ADA is certifying that it meets the required standards to train students to take the examinations for state certification or licensure. Graduates are required to meet the standards set by the ADA's Commission on Dental Accrediting. All dental assistants and dental hygienists are required to be certified or licensed to practice in the state.
Establishing the dental program and earning accreditation was a rigorous process, starting in 2005 with the college's assessing the need in its service area.
A survey of dental practices in Lee, Harnett, Chatham and Moore counties indicated a need for an additional 68 hygienists and 92 assistants within four years.
The college applied to the State Board of the N.C. Community College System for authorization to offer the program; approval was received November 2005.
Black was hired in July 2005 to coordinate the college's dental program facility in the Dental Center.
The equipment is "state-of-the-art," she said, the best in any community college dental program in the state. It includes all-digital patient records, 12 patient chairs, panoramic and regular x-ray machines, hands-free sterilization area and other equipment.
After the program was set up, the ADA did a thorough inspection and review of it before issuing the accreditation.
"I'm not exaggerating when I say that the process of accrediting our dental programs is the toughest accreditation I've encountered in my 24-plus years in education," says Dr. John Slade, CCCC vice president of Instruction. "I appreciate that this program is getting the best start imaginable because the process of accreditation beforehand pushes you to begin in the right way."
Not only will the program train dental workers but also, thanks to a unique collaboration with Lee County Public Health Department's dental clinic, it will help to increase access to oral health care for unserved and underserved populations in Lee, Harnett, Chatham and Moore counties. When fully operational, the dental center will provide about 5,000 patient services annually.
The decision was made to house the collaborative effort, known as the Central Carolina Dental Center, in the W.B. Wicker Business Campus on Vance St.
Brick Capital Community Development Corp recently restored the Business Campus, formerly the W.B. Wicker School. It is on the National Register of Historical Places as one of the few surviving schools built for and by African Americans in the 1920s with assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation.
The collaboration between the college and Lee County Public Health made it easier to raise the money needed to develop and equip the program. More than $1 million in grants was raised through the college's Grants Office: $298,809 from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, $270,595 from the NC Community College System's Allied Health Grant Fund, $223,006 from GoldenLEAF Inc., $25,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation; and $2,800 from the N.C. Dental Society's Dental Health Endowment, as well as a $250,505 grant from the Duke Endowment to Lee County Public Health.
In its report, the Commission on Accreditation commended the college "for its creative funding in order to establish, equip and develop this outstanding dental facility."
The county's Children's Dental Program opened in the Dental Center in August and will begin serving adults next year. The college had to wait for the ADA accreditation of its facility and training program before starting classes. Now it's ready for students.
"We're elated that our program is finally officially official," says Slade. "We can now turn the page to the next chapter, which is operating the best dental assisting and hygiene education programs in the state. It goes without saying that many fine people -- but especially Marsha Black and Dean Preston Sellers -- have provided extraordinary commitment to getting this done in a way that makes all of CCCC proud. The visiting accreditation team was so complimentary of the entire College in the way it went about this process."
Katherine McDonald is a news and feature writer for Central Carolina Community College in Sanford.
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