WCC dental assisting program shines

 

Student taking x-rays on a patient

Dental assisting student Hannah Osborne, 21, of Belleville practices taking X-rays on the Dental Assisting Program Director Kathy Weber. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

By Sofia Lynch

 

Washtenaw Community College offers a number of highly-acclaimed programs that are a source of pride for those in and around the WCC community. What it is that earns these programs their notoriety, however, is not always as commonly known. While many view career preparedness as one of the main jobs of a college, programs like WCC’s Dental Clinic go beyond the call of duty and provide in-field job experience for its students.

Through the Dental Clinic, WCC dental assisting students will work alongside University of Michigan third-year dental students to provide economical oral care to those at WCC – all under the supervision of licensed community dentists. The clinic opens for treatment Feb. 2, and continues through April 14.

“The whole point of the clinic is to give a service to students, staff and faculty here at WCC, but then also to give our traditional students in our program an opportunity to have that first patient experience… Otherwise, many times their first experience with patients in a clinical setting is private practice,” said Tina Sprague, one of the three dental assisting full-time faculty.

student preparing a patient for an x-ray

Preparing for an x-ray, Hannah Osborne, a 21-year-old dental assisting student of Belleville, helps Kathy Weber the program director for dental assisting put on her lead protective vest. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

Sprague and the two full-time faculty that work alongside her – Kathy Weber, the program director and Jodi Neuman, a clinical instructor – are all WCC alumnae. Weber taught Sprague, and they both instructed Neuman.

“I think that my program is great in the fact that we have three women who work really well with one another. Everything we do is a team,” Sprague said.

Although WCC houses the only dental assisting program in the state that has a working clinic for dental assistants, the program is by no means limited to the services provided by the dental clinic. The Dental Assisting program provides an American Dental Association accredited, one-year certificate program that prepares students for the legally delegated duties of a dental assistant, in agreement with the Administrative Rules of the Michigan Board of Dentistry, according to the program’s website.

“In order to be a dental assistant in the state of Michigan, there are no requirements unfortunately,” Sprague said. “However, if you want to legally take radiographs – if you want to be employable, let’s say that – you need to be educated and, in this area a lot of times, have your license.”

The only way to obtain registered dental assistant licensure is to be a graduate of an ADA accredited program, Sprague explained. So due to WCC having an ADA accredited program, students like 24-year-old Sammy Creekmore and 35-year-old Candis Smith seek out WCC specifically for its ADA accreditation.

“It was the one that was most highly recommended by any people that I spoke to, and it is the only accredited college in the area,” Smith said.

Beyond being ADA accredited, the program also prepares students for the Dental Assisting National Board examination, which leads to the nationally recognized status of a Certified Dental Assistant. WCC’s program lays claim to the highest pass rate on the board exam in the state. With the current shortage of dental assistants in Michigan right now, Sprague reported that dentists call all the time looking for graduates.

“I probably wouldn’t have learned 50 percent of what I know right now if it wasn’t for this clinic and what we have here,” Smith said of her program.

As far as the facilities and equipment WCC students get to utilize: “there isn’t anything any better,” Smith said.

“Anywhere,” Creekmore added. “Even the people that come to do the accreditation were amazed by all the equipment we have.”

For those WCC students, staff or faculty interested in taking advantage of the WCC dental clinic, appointments are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m. throughout the winter semester in OE 106. To schedule an appointment, call 734-973-3332.

 

  • Oral Prophylaxis (cleaning) and exams $15
  • X-rays $15
  • Amalgam (silver) restorations $15
  • Composite (tooth colored) restorations $20

 

Dental treatment provided in the dental clinic is limited in scope. Treatment not available at WCC is referred to other dental professionals.

 

 

 

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