Bulletin of Dental Education

Dental Hygiene Students Perfect Skills at Northern Virginia Community College’s Medical Education Campus

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Currently at the Northern Virginia Community College’s Medical Education Campus (MEC), there are two cohorts of dental hygiene students who are eager to learn, practice and perfect their clinical skills. The MEC hallways and clinics are full of clinical rolling carts as the students work in partners to develop their skills. The second-year cohort consists of 30 students, while the first-year cohort has 32 students. The second-year students have taken the first-year students under their wings and have given their time and knowledge to help the new class by providing mentorship and tutoring. The first-year students were welcomed with a luncheon and goodies from the second year-students.

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The first-year students are currently developing their radiographic skills and learning how to obtain clear and precise images of the oral structures. They are also learning about ergonomics and instrument adaptation principles. Students are practicing with mouth mirrors and typodonts to master their visual and tactile abilities. In addition, they are learning about the anatomical landmarks and oral tissues of the head and neck region.

The second-year students are advancing to a higher scope of practice that is not yet available to all dental hygienists in the United States. Students are learning and practicing the valuable skill of administering local anesthesia. Having this within our scope of practice is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. Students need to be prepared for any potential emergency and ensure the safety of themselves and their patients while providing this service. According to Wilkins’ Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, “local anesthesia is the main modality for management of dental pain” and therefore, it is an essential service for the practice of dental hygiene. 

The educators and dentists at the MEC are equipping students with vital skills that will make them an indispensable dental health care provider for their community. The program’s hope is that students will appreciate the quality and scale of education they receive at the MEC, and that they will recognize the tremendous impact they can have on future patients’ oral health and well-being. The educators are dedicated to sharing their knowledge and expertise with every student on this campus. 

In the next few months, these students will be embarking on a journey to begin their careers as licensed dental hygienists. The program’s hope is for students to keep learning and increasing their education to help advance the dental hygiene profession to improve patient care and reduce the oral care disparity gap in the United States.

Courtesy of Northern Virginia Community College

Published on October 11, 2023

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