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Technology Opens New Education Avenues for Dental Hygienists


Philadelphia area dental hygienists now have the opportunity to earn baccalaureate degrees to advance in their field thanks to a unique program using videoconferencing technology.

The bachelor of science degree course work in dental hygiene will be delivered from Pennsylvania College of Technology, in Williamsport, to a classroom at Montgomery County Community College. Students will be licensed dental hygienists who have completed associate degrees in dental hygiene, but who desire advanced education and credentials directly relevant to their career field. Classes will be held in the evenings to accommodate the working hygienists’ schedules and will be conducted on a part-time basis.

Penn College, an affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, is one of only two institutions in the statethat offers baccalaureate programming in dental hygiene; the other is located near Pittsburgh. Penn College added the bachelor’s degree in 1992 and has offered the course work at off-campus sites since 1995. The first alternative site was at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, followed by Harcum College in Bryn Mawr.

Montgomery County Community College is now the third site; the initiative is made possible, in part, through a $58,908 Link-to-Learn grant awarded to Penn College earlier this year by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Link-to-Learn is Gov. Tom Ridge’s three-year, $132 million initiative aimed at expanding the use of technology in the classroom.

“The degree-completion program for dental hygienists in the Montgomery County area offers an excellent opportunity for licensed dental hygienists to earn a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene who otherwise would need to relocate in order to earn the degree,” explains Kathleen E. Morr, director of dental hygiene at Penn College.

Individuals enrolling in the program are expected to come from Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester counties.

“In addition to the strong curriculum base, students will have the opportunity to exchange experiences with all students, as the student population will be graduates from a variety of dental hygiene programs who have a diversity of employment experiences,” Morr adds.

In addition to enabling hygienists to complete advanced course work and baccalaureate degrees needed to meet requirements for licensure renewal, the objective of the programming is to help the professionals remain current in their profession and increase their career options and opportunities. Modes of instructional delivery supplementing the videoconferencing will be video- and Internet-based instruction.

Anyone interested in more information about the program is invited to attend an Open House on Monday, Aug. 10, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Community College Science Center, Room 214 and/or to call Penn College’s Dental Hygiene Office at (570) 320-8007.

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