Dentists in the Arrowhead region are experiencing a critical shortage of trained dental assistants. In response, Lake Superior College and Hibbing Community College have developed a dual campus partnership to provide a dental assisting program for students who live in the Twin Ports area.
The collaboration started last fall as a trial program, and will now continue and look to grow. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with Hibbing Community College,” said Kjersta Watt, director of Lake Superior College’s Dental Hygiene program. “In recent years, the Twin Ports dental community has expressed a need for more trained dental assistants. This partnership will serve as a model for other training needs as well.”
Dental assisting students spend three days on the Hibbing Community College campus for hands-on laboratory and clinical skills, and two days on Lake Superior College campus for remote ITV dental assisting theory coursework. General education and pre-requisite courses are offered through Lake Superior College.
The program can be completed in less than a year, including a required eight-week internship in a dental office chosen by the student. “This program was convenient and a very positive experience,” said student Kaylie Majkich. “Living in Duluth, I completed the program without having to travel as much as I would have if classes were every day of the week in Hibbing. The dental assisting cohort gave me a study group and a new group of friends.”
“This collaboration between Hibbing Community College and Lake Superior College is an excellent opportunity for residents in the Twin Ports area to earn a dental assisting degree,” said Hibbing Community College Provost Mike Raich. “We expect this joint effort will help address the region’s workforce demands.”
According to the American Dental Association, dental assistants greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of quality oral health care and are valuable members of the dental care team. The duties of a dental assistant are among the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office. The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Since dental assistants are in demand, career options include both full-time and part-time positions.