Bulletin of Dental Education

Community Outreach and New State-of-the-art Simulation Laboratory Supports Dental Program Students at Minnesota State Community and Technical College

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The accredited Dental Hygiene Program at Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) has been graduating confident, competent and community-focused dental hygienists for decades. The program’s curriculum uses current technology to teach fundamental technical skills, occupational safety, effective communication and ethical professional behavior.

Moorhead, MN, is a suburb of Fargo, ND, which is a small, but growing, metropolitan area with a variety of socio-economic demographics. This enables local dental hygiene students to complete affiliation experiences with community and public health dental clinics, serving underserved populations and bringing much needed dental education to groups of people who may not have access to such care.

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There are dozens of local elementary schools in the area, granting our students opportunities to conduct caries risk and sealant screenings, along with fluoride applications. All this community involvement, combined with the education and application from dedicated didactic and clinical faculty, lends to the development of well-rounded, experienced and prepared graduates.

The M State dental program recently added a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory, allowing for more hands-on practice time, along with the possibility of expanding the number of students the program is able to accept each fall. This simulation laboratory hosts an instructor station with demonstration capabilities over each student monitor, so every student is given a close-up view of the new skill being taught.

Each of the 12 simulation stations are set up like a proper dental operatory and patient chair, assisting with skills from operator position to typodont probing, scaling and polishing. Every computer monitor is enabled with our patient management software to assist with practicing charting and clinical documentation.

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The execution and realization of the simulation laboratory was even more important when the COVID-19 pandemic affected dental hygiene and assisting programs. It was crucial that the M State program was able to address teaching a smaller number of students at once, on simulated patients, as public dental clinic regulations relied completely on the state dental board and CDC recommendations.

There are dual enrollment and transfer options for students who wish to complete an advanced degree in dental hygiene after graduating with their associate degree from M State, opening many opportunities beyond clinical dental hygiene.

Courtesy of Sarah Desjarlais, RDH, M.S.D.H., Dental Hygiene Program Faculty, Minnesota State Community and Technical College at Moorhead

Published on October 11, 2023

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