Bulletin of Dental Education

Ozarks Technical Community College Dental Programs Promotes Collaboration

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A collaborative effort between the dental assisting and dental hygiene students and faculty makes Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) Dental Programs a hallmark program. Located in Springfield, MO, OTC dental assisting students earn either a certificate or Associate of Applied Science degree; OTC dental hygiene students earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. From the first day of class to graduation, OTC promotes mentorship by assigning a peer mentor to each student. Dental Assisting Program Director Janet Sell, Ed.D., states, “This program incorporates various mentoring activities, including Leadership Ranch, where students perform team-oriented tasks in an obstacle course facility.” The goal is to encourage peer interaction between the dental assisting and dental hygiene students to promote learning and leadership development. These activities cultivate a sense of community among OTC Dental Programs students and create value in networking.


OTC Dental Programs is invested in its students and community. OTC wants to graduate dental professionals who not only possess excellent technical abilities and knowledge, but continue to be active members in their communities. OTC Dental Programs engages students with the community through a variety of health service events, including Dentistry from the Heart, Day of Hope, Good Samaritan Clinic, Missouri Mission of Mercy, and Children’s Smile Center school screenings. Dental Programs students also travel to Nicaragua for an annual health service mission trip, where they visit different villages within the country to provide dental services. Medical services are included in the provision of care, allowing for an interprofessional learning environment. Dental Hygiene Program Director Rebecca Caceres, CDA, RDH, M.O.L., says, “The students return from the trip with elevated compassion for their patients and become increasingly aware of the needs within their own community. They have a tendency to put that awareness into action locally when they return.” OTC students connect with their community through these events and gain valuable mentorship in return. 

Additionally, OTC Dental Programs students mingle with dental professionals through statewide professional development events. Dental assisting and dental hygiene students also have the opportunity to interact and travel together through educational events such as the Midwest Dental Conference in Kansas City, MO; the Women in Dentistry Symposium in Branson, MO; and internal professional education events hosted by the OTC Foundation. These valuable networking events have provided students with prospective employment. 

These collaborative efforts work toward fulfilling the OTC Dental Programs purpose statement: “To create and mentor an outstanding dental professional.” 

Courtesy of Janet Sell, Ed.D., Dental Assisting Program Director, and Rebecca S. Caceres, CDA, RDH, M.O.L., Dental Hygiene Program Director, Ozarks Technical Community College

Published on January 10, 2018

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