College dental hygiene program delayed

Certification process can take 18 months

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College’s planned start of its dental hygiene program has been pushed back to fall 2024 due to an accreditation process that has turned out to be far longer and more complex than it had anticipated, officials said.

In the interim, the college is continuing its preparations to once again offer a degree for the first time since its partnership with Pierce College in Lakewood to offer a two-year dental hygiene program that ended 10 years ago.

Mia Boster, the college’s dean of workforce education and its accreditation liaison officer, said the lengthy CODA — the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation — asks questions such as how the program will connect to the ADA’s competencies, learning outcomes and expectations.

The college will be required to provide details about the program’s resources, curriculum and policies. Then it will receive a CODA site visit during which administrators and instructors are interviewed, and then it will have to wait for the results.

That the CODA team only meets twice a year adds to the wait time that can be as long as 18 months.

“There’s a lot more to it than you think when you first see it,” Boster said of the application.

Paula Watson, the college’s dental hygiene program director who arrived on campus in September, said: “We’ve already had our initial application accepted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, so we’ve ticked that box, but we can’t even start recruiting students until we receive accreditation.”

Dental hygiene classes will be held in the Allied Health and Early Childhood Development Center. The goal is to both train dental hygienists who can find employment upon completion of the program as well as provide basic dental care, like teeth cleaning, to the community. There will be 10 students in the program.

An advisory board composed of about 20 local dental professionals has been lending advice and guidance in developing the program that will train dental hygienists who are in demand, not just locally but statewide.

Bracken Killpack, executive director of the Washington State Dental Association (WSDA), said a shortage of dental hygienists and assistants that was a problem before the pandemic has only increased in its wake.

One of the solutions WSDA has pursued is partnering with organizations like the state Board for Community Technical Colleges to find ways to expand dental hygiene training in the state, Killpack said. Peninsula College was one of the schools it reached out to.

“Peninsula College has been very forward-thinking in how they want to design their program,” Killpack said. “I really appreciated that they’ve been figuring out what they need rather than copying how other programs do it. They’re embedding prerequisites or training requirements into the curriculum itself versus loading up the number of courses that people have to take.”

Dental hygiene programs are expensive to build, operate and maintain, Boster said, so the college is looking at grant funding and working with WSDA as it moves forward.

“We’re just really excited about it, and what’s really important is we’re bringing training and dental health care services to the community and it’s really about a community need,” Boster said. “There really is a need for more dental hygienists. And so we’re excited to meet that.”

________

Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

More in News

Crystal Heap of Lynden admires a lavender bouquet as her daughter, Lillian, 6, looks on at Old Barn Lavender Company near Sequim on Saturday, part of Sequim Lavender Weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Fresh lavender in Sequim fields

Crystal Heap of Lynden admires a lavender bouquet as her daughter, Lillian,… Continue reading

District adding community paramedic

Program designed to help frequent 9-1-1 callers

“Remember Me,” the large-scale mural on the American Legion-Jack Grennan Post 62 hall, was unveiled at a public event on Saturday. (Melissa Klein)
American Legion mural displays World War I hero

‘Remember Me’ includes portrait of Jack Grennan

Sequim council enacts remote public comment procedure

Participants who want to speak remotely must sign in by 3 p.m. on meeting day

Operations scheduled at Bentinck range this week

The land-based demolition range at Bentinck Island will be… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, center, walks on a trail in Neah Bay with Tribal Chairman Timothy J. Greene Sr., left, and others. (Sen. Murray's office)
Murray tours West End facilities

Senator secured funding for road, medical center

Olympic Medical Heart Center director Leonard Anderson examines a new echocardiograph at the Port Angeles hospital facility. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Foundation donation aids OMC’s heart center

Echocardiogram machine to help more patients receive care locally

OMC providing facts about Proposition 1

Hospital sees $2.2M in savings following consultant tips

From left, Leland Gibson, Tucker Piontek and Jeff Matthews are lowered into the water aboard Fern, a Nordic folk boat commissioned by Michigan resident Charles Jahn, who was present to see his boat in the water for the first time on Friday at Port Townsend’s Boat Haven Marina. Fern was built over three years by three separate classes of students at The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. (Elijah Sussman/Peninsula Daily News)
Boat launched in Port Townsend

From left, Leland Gibson, Tucker Piontek and Jeff Matthews are lowered into… Continue reading

Maya DeLano, executive assistant at Composite Recycling Technology Center, demonstrates the durability of recycled carbon fiber during a job fair on Friday organized by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce at the Vern Burton Community Center. (Christopher Urquia/Peninsula Daily News)
Job fair in Port Angeles

Maya DeLano, executive assistant at Composite Recycling Technology Center, demonstrates the durability… Continue reading

Three generations of Bike the US for MS riders — from left, Michael Davies, Jordyn Davies and Richard Davies — visit the Sequim MS Support Group. (Sequim MS Support Group)
Bike the US for MS makes stop in Sequim

The Sequim Multiple Sclerosis Support Group continued its tradition of… Continue reading