Bulletin of Dental Education

Tyler Junior College Becomes First Community College in Texas to Offer B.S.D.H. Program

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In December, Tyler Junior College (TJC) in Tyler, TX, celebrated the first graduates of its new Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program. TJC is the only community college in Texas to offer a B.S. in dental hygiene, and is one of four community colleges in the state to offer any type of baccalaureate award.

In spring 2015, TJC Dental Studies Department Chair Carrie Hobbs, M.Ed., RDH, eagerly agreed to assist TJC President Mike Metke, Ed.D., and Juan Mejia, M.Ed., Ed.D., TJC Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, in establishing a B.S.D.H. degree at TJC. The process was initiated through state legislation and progressed through the approval processes of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. TJC implemented a pilot program in fall 2016. Subsequent state legislation in 2017 allowed TJC to remove the program’s “pilot” status. Thanks to these efforts, Texas residents who have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental hygiene program now have an opportunity to complete a B.S.D.H. at a community college.

Tyler Junior College awarded its first-ever Bachelor of
Science degrees during the fall 2017 commencement 
ceremony on Dec. 8. Pictured from left: 

State Sen. Bryan Hughes, commencement speaker and
1989 TJC alumnus; Bachelor of Science degree recipients
Michelle Trammell, Shannon Kassaw and Amanda Camp;
TJC Board President Ann W. Brookshire; and
TJC President Dr. Mike Metke.

TJC’s B.S.D.H. degree plan consists of 30 hours of upper-level dental hygiene courses plus any remaining core classes. A dental hygienist seeking this opportunity can choose a one- or two-year track to complete the B.S.D.H. Upper-level dental hygiene courses provide critical thought-provoking and engaging enrichment to a foundationally challenging associate-level education. This unique opportunity is offered in hybrid format with face-to-face class time that is limited to Friday afternoons, accommodating many dental office schedules. Students enrolled in the program report appreciation for this community college style that allows them to glean support from their classmates and get to know their professors. 

The B.S.D.H. completion degree opens doors for licensed dental hygienists to career opportunities in a variety of settings, such as education, research, community health projects and administration. In addition to the clinical education earned in any CODA-accredited dental hygiene program, the B.S.D.H. advances the profession of dental hygiene by credentialing the hygienist in the eyes of the public and the dental profession.

Out of the inaugural 16 students who began TJC’s B.S.D.H. program in fall 2016, three enrolled in the one-year track. These three students were celebrated during TJC’s Dec. 8 commencement ceremonies as the first students to graduate from TJC with a bachelor’s degree—history in the making. These graduates completed their coursework in conjunction with job responsibilities of full-time private practice and/or family roles. The remaining 13 students of the initial B.S.D.H. enrollees are expected to graduate in May 2018. In the meantime, new students are enrolling each semester.

Last year, TJC celebrated its 90th anniversary, and the dental hygiene program has proudly been a part of the college for 48 years. The Department of Dental Studies, including a one-year Certified Dental Assisting program, an Associate Degree Dental Hygiene program and now a B.S.D.H. completion program, is one option among the plentiful opportunities at TJC. 

Courtesy of Carrie Hobbs, M.Ed., RDH, TJC Dental Studies Department Chair, Tyler Junior College

Published on January 10, 2018

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