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Germanna Community College Dental Program Helps Students Compete

Program aims to help students enter the workforce in a rapidly growing profession.

By Livability on October 19, 2022

Germanna Community College dental hygiene program
Courtesy of Germanna Community College

The dental hygiene profession is expected to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Germanna Community College in Locust Grove, Virginia, is capitalizing on this trajectory by offering a certificate program in dental assisting and an associate degree in dental hygiene. While the latter isn’t new per se, a change taking effect in the fall of 2022 will better position the college to serve the needs of students and employers. 

As Dental Hygiene Program Director Misty Mesimer explains, for more than two decades the school partnered with Northern Virginia Community College to offer a dental hygiene program. 

But as circumstances changed, Germanna decided it would be better to offer its own curriculum to allow students to seamlessly enter the profession, creating a win-win for both students and the community. 

“They can stop at dental assisting, or they can continue on to dental hygiene,” Mesimer says. “Our programs are very open to students who already have dental assisting experience. And they’re encouraged to come in and do our Expanded Functions Program and gain some additional credentials.”

Some examples of those expanded functions include packing, carving and polishing amalgam restorations; placing and finishing composite restorations; placing non-epinephrine retraction cord; and taking final impressions and providing final cementations of indirect restorations.

This additional skill set, which leads to a career studies certificate, only makes students more marketable to potential employers. 

In addition, Germanna partners with the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic in Fredericksburg for dental students, creating a more community-focused experience. 

The college, which has been educating students since 1970, also offers formal externships so students can get hands-on training.

Considering the “great resignation” and early retirements, the market for dental hygienists and dental assistants continues to grow. 

“We’re trying to meet that demand as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of our students’ education and skills,” Mesimer concludes.

For more information about dental programs at Germanna Community College, visit germanna.edu.

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