Bulletin of Dental Education

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Dental Hygiene Hails Largest Group of Male Graduates

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Pennsylvania College of Technology’s dental hygiene graduating class of 2024 represents the most men the program has ever enrolled.

Forty students are accepted into the program each year. Five men were part of the cohort that graduated on May 10, 2024.  

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Men have been allowed to work in dental hygiene—originally conceived as an ideal career pursuit for women—since 1965, but they remain a minority in the profession. While the prevalence of men in nursing has grown, the same has not been true in dental hygiene, with women representing about 94% of registered dental hygienists.

“I do have concerns about people’s perspective about men in dental hygiene,” said student Ty D. Turba, of Houtzdale, PA. “I have already experienced situations where I am asked why I am the one cleaning their teeth and not ‘the girls.’”

Still, Mr. Turba and his male classmates are excited to enter the dental hygiene profession, sharing a drive to help and connect with others.

“The social aspect is a big factor that drew me to this career, and it still is a big motivator,” said Mikey E. Strohm III, a student from Thompsontown, PA. “I would consider myself a social person, and I am excited to talk to all kinds of different people and get to know them and their experiences.”

“I’ve always enjoyed just talking to people, taking care of people, helping people out,” said Wangden T. Nangpa, of Medford, MA.

“I don’t like being glued to a desk all the time,” he added. “I want to be with other people. You get another person to yourself for a whole hour, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for in my profession.”

“I believe I excel at communicating on a one-on-one basis, and this will be perfect for me,” said Orlando D. Bellaman, a student from Annville, PA.

Mr. Bellaman left warehouse work to pursue dental hygiene. “I told myself I would never work another warehouse job again. I put everything on the line, and that was the fuel to my fire.”

Similarly, Joshua Quigley, of Williamsport, PA, left a job in education.

His four male classmates knew early on that they wanted to enter the dental profession: Mr. Bellaman had excelled in a dental assisting program in high school and was named student of the year at the school in 2014. Mr. Strohm began researching the profession when career-interest surveys consistently included dental in their lists of results. “I dug a little deeper…and became pretty passionate in pursuing it as my own career,” he said. And Mr. Turba had always wanted to be in the dental profession. “I began dental assisting and wanted to do more,” he said.

But Mr. Quigley’s search took longer.

“I knew I wanted to help people; I knew that was why I was put on this earth,” said Mr. Quigley. But he didn’t know in what capacity until he went to get his teeth cleaned. He asked his dental hygienist—as he’d been asking many people—how she had found her passion.

“I listened to her story, and I got totally inspired,” he said. He likened the feeling he had when the hygienist allowed him to hold an instrument to an out-of-body experience. He called his girlfriend, who told him to sit on the idea before plowing ahead. After several months, his interest had not waned, so he began prerequisite coursework.

Both Mr. Bellaman and Mr. Quigley are excited to become the first in their families to graduate from college.

“All of my friends and family are excited I have chosen this pathway,” said Mr. Bellaman. “I am the first of my siblings to attend college. There has been nothing but support and motivation to keep pushing forward.”

The students feel prepared, thanks to the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Dental Hygiene Program’s faculty and staff, including Director Shawn A. Kiser, D.Ed., RDH, also a graduate of the college’s dental hygiene program, and fellow students.

“This experience is teaching me more than dental hygiene; it is teaching me about who I am,” said Mr. Quigley. “This program and Penn College are bringing out the best in me and teaching me how to be the best me I can be. I am thrilled to be at Penn College and would not want to be anywhere else.”

“I also would describe my experience here at Penn College as nothing short of amazing,” said Mr. Strohm said. “I don’t exaggerate in the slightest when I say that my instructors are some of the best I have ever had. They are always encouraging and supportive in everyone’s success, and they never waiver, no matter what they are experiencing.”

“There are going to be easy patients, and there are going to be challenging patients who we must be able to care for,” said Mr. Bellaman. “The program at Penn College is intensely rigorous and shows no shortage of information and real skills to learn.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s offers bachelor’s and associate degrees in dental hygiene. To learn more, visit www.pct.edu/dental.

For information about Pennsylvania College of Technology, a national leader in applied technology education, visit www.pct.edu.

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania College of Technology Dental Hygiene Program

Published on June 12, 2024

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