Bulletin of Dental Education

Pierce College’s Dental Hygiene Program Offers Its First Bachelor of Applied Science Degree

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Pierce College Full LogoThe Pierce College’s Dental Hygiene program has been graduating highly skilled, compassionate dental hygiene students in its fully accredited program since 1973. In the past few years, the program has not only experienced positive changes to meet the needs of its community, but also the profession of dental hygiene.

In 2016, the dental hygiene program was the first at Pierce College to award a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, specifically a Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene (B.A.S.D.H.). The program graduated its first class in 2017. 

Dental hygiene graduates in Washington State with an associate degree now have the option to earn their B.A.S.D.H. online through Pierce College, thanks to Bridge BASDH, a program introduced in 2018. The college accepted its first class to the program in fall 2018 and graduated, in addition to entry-level BASDH students, 10 Bridge BASDH students this past August. 

As Washington State has expanded functions for dental hygienists since 1971, to include administering local anesthesia and the placing and finishing of restorations, restorative dentistry, the combined prerequisite courses and dental hygiene curriculum at Pierce College has always been four years in length. Being able to “bridge” this gap in students’ education with the Bridge BASDH program to award the bachelor’s degrees students had mostly achieved, has been rewarding. Students have expressed that the curriculum exceeds their expectations for growth.

Pierce College Photo 1Other Projects Help Dental Hygiene Program’s Mission
Service learning and outreach has always been a highlight of Pierce College’s Dental Hygiene program. 

Former Dental Hygiene program faculty member Prof. Mary Galagan, RDH, M.H.A., has led several outreach projects, including Homeless Connect, Pierce County Children’s Dental Day, veterans’ fairs, habitat restoration and many other inter/intra-professional collaborations through the college’s service-learning courses for the past 27 years. She recently retired from Pierce College, but her legacy will continue as the Dental Hygiene program is committed to serving the community, both in outreach events and on campus.

Dental Hygiene Clinic Funding Approved
Finally, the Washington State Legislature approved funding to build a new Pierce College Dental Hygiene Clinic this past session. The clinic is currently located at Pierce College’s Fort Steilacoom campus in Lakewood, WA, and provides low-cost preventive and limited restorative dental services to the public. Dental hygiene students perform all services at the clinic under the expert instruction and guidance of licensed, professional dental hygienists and dentists. 

The new two-story building will be across from the current clinic and adjacent to the Health Education facility on the Fort Steilacoom campus. Dental hygiene will be housed on the second level, above the veterinary technician program. 

Pierce College is planning to create a clinic that will continue to meet the needs of the community and the learning of the students for years to come. The new construction will provide a state-of-the-art simulation lab and digital lab, two additional operatory units and several other amenities to provide the students opportunities for interaction with other health care students and both outdoor and indoor study space. 

Pierce College Photo 3

Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2020 with a move-in date of spring 2021.

Courtesy of Monica L. Hospenthal, RDH, M.Ed., Director, Bachelor of Applied Science Dental Hygiene Programs, Pierce College

Published on September 11, 2019

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