How did Jacquelyn L. Fried, RDH, M.S., come to oversee the nation's only entry-level baccalaureate degree dental hygiene program with a didactic curriculum that is entirely online? The answer lies in the confluence of a high-tech university dental school, its mission to
bring care to the state's underserved, and her desire to extend university-based dental hygiene education to students outside the
state's urban core.
Prof. Fried joined the faculty at the University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (UMDS) in 1978. For the past seven years, she has served as Director of the school's Division of Dental Hygiene. During that period she has fostered the establishment of two satellite programs that make the university's baccalaureate degree accessible to future
dental hygienists living in two of the state's underserved rural areas.
The first of these was established in 2006. The Eastern Shore program avails itself of the technological sophistication of
UMDS, the clinical capacity of a local federally qualified health center (FQHC), and the assessment capabilities of two nearby community colleges. Using standardized online course templates, lecture-capture software, video conferencing, and other
communications technologies, the university delivers the entire didactic portion of the curriculum via the Internet to students in
their homes. The clinical portion and preclinical labs take place on the Eastern Shore at the FQHC. Finally, partnerships with nearby
Chesapeake and Wor-Wic Community Colleges make secure testing possible in the students' home communities.
Because UMDS confers a baccalaureate degree, students in the distance program must first complete two years of
prerequisites, just like their Baltimore-based counterparts. This can be done at any accredited college or university.
The success of the Eastern Shore venture eased the way for the creation of a second distance learning program northeast of
Baltimore in Cecil County. Children in this area have the highest rate of dental decay in the state. A new UMDS facility built to address this need while affording outreach opportunities for students provides the program with an outstanding clinical facility. Nearby Cecil College provides a venue for testing.
While Prof. Fried was instrumental in establishing the programs, she also credits their success to the entire dental
hygiene faculty, especially those on site who "really breathed life into the programs." She also acknowledges strong support from her
dean and from those in UMDS's IT department. She describes their assistance as selfless and says, "They have gone above and beyond
in educating us."
Although the programs only recently produced their first graduates (2008 on the Eastern Shore and 2009 in Cecil County),
Prof. Fried already sees evidence that they are fulfilling their mandate.
"It is pretty amazing. Oral health awareness is rising in Maryland, and that's partly because of our presence in these
underserved communities. We have established relationships with health departments, hospitals, and community groups, and we are
seeing the value placed on our profession rise as well."