LEWISTON, Idaho – Starting in January, Lewis-Clark State College will again offer students a pathway toward a dental hygiene degree thanks to North Idaho College and Heritage Health.
LC State and NIC officials have been working on partnering in a new two-year program, which will award Associate of Applied Science degrees in Dental Hygiene and prepare graduates to take the national exam to become a registered dental hygienist.
NIC is partnering with Heritage Health, which has been providing healthcare services since 1985 in the Coeur d’Alene and Hayden areas. That partnership will allow didactic courses to be offered in two locations starting in January, one on the main NIC campus and the other at LC State. Clinicals and laboratory practice will occur at Heritage Health for Coeur d’Alene-based students, and in the LC State dental hygiene clinic for Lewiston-based students. Students must complete prerequisite coursework to be eligible to apply for admission into the program.
Those eligible for the program and who want to start this spring semester must apply by Thursday, Oct. 8. Jacob Hornby, a professor of biology at LC State and the college’s pre-dental hygiene advisor, said the quick turnaround to apply came about because officials had to wait for formal accreditation of the program.
Hornby said the program will use an every-other year admission cycle so the next application won’t open until the fall 2022 semester. He said the LC site will accept five students each admission cycle for the program, while the NIC location has room for 10.
The program will be delivered using online courses, internet video conferencing that allows students from each institution to participate in lectures as a large group, and then lab and clinic time on the respective campuses and in partnership with clinics. While the hybrid model is unique, it has the required in-depth development and coordination to achieve initial accreditation status, which was granted last month.
Previously, LC State had a successful partnership with Lane Community College and offered an AAS in Dental Hygiene on campus. The program regularly produced up to six graduates each year, many of whom went to work for local dentists. This agreement was in place from 2008 to 2018.
Looking ahead, students will learn a wide array of dental procedures and work on actual patients. The clinic will not be open to the community in the spring, rather LC patients will be limited to those associated with the dental hygiene education program.
Dental screenings will be performed to determine the need for dental care and to provide preventive oral care services. Under the supervision of faculty and dentists, the students will be providing procedures such as radiographs, head and neck oral cancer exams, periodontal assessments and periodontal treatment in addition to cleanings and polishing, fluoride and desensitizing treatments, dental sealants, sports guards and a complete dental examination.
Prospective students interested in more information on the program should contact Hornby at either [email protected] or 208-792-2441.