Thanks to recent Perkins grant program funding, dental
assistant students at Manchester Community College (MCC) in Manchester, CT, are
now primarily using digital radiographic techniques during radiology
experiences. The grant funds provided for the purchase of additional
state-of-the-art titanium digital radiograph sensors and accessories.
“Having these additional sensors promotes skill development
and allows more time to meet course learning outcomes,” says Rosemary Ryan,
Director of the MCC Dental Assistant Program. “Digital techniques significantly
reduce patient exposure to radiation and images are easily accessible, which
enables the students to complete radiology requirements needed to be successful
in the MCC Dental Assistant Program.”
Role-playing exercises are integrated during laboratory
sessions so students develop patient and operator communication, in addition to
ethical and critical thinking skills, when responding to a variety of dental
radiation health and safety scenarios.
The scenarios cover a range of potential real-world issues.
For example, one scenario is about a young new patient being scheduled by her
mother for a treatment plan prior to an orthodontist visit. The young patient
Alara’s (fictitious name) mother believes that radiographs are damaging to
young children and wants her to have braces, yet she wants her child to skip
the radiographs. In another scenario, Ray Beam (fictitious name) is a
successful businessperson who is proud of his smile but reluctant to be exposed
to radiation because he fears there will be genetic damage.
Each student assumes a role and is required to respond to
patient questions or statements by using evidence-based radiology information,
before making responses or decisions surrounding radiation exposure.
Upon the successful completion of MCC’s program, students
are better prepared and able to take the Dental Assisting National Board
examinations to become certified dental assistants (CDAs). During the Radiation
Health and Safety exam, students are tested on digital radiology techniques
that are replacing traditional radiographs in dental health care settings.
The MCC dental assistants then complete externship hours
and radiology requirements at the University of Connecticut School of Dental
“The radiology laboratory experiences the students have
received taking digital radiographs at MCC have made them more prepared for
when they have their rotation in the radiology department,” says Pam Miles,
Supervisor of Dental Assistants and Liaison for MCC students at the UConn
Health Center. “This has made the experience for students more productive
because they already feel more comfortable with what they have learned when
they come to us to meet their requirements.”
Career opportunities for MCC dental assistant graduates are
steadily increasing and are projected to continue to do so, notes Ryan.
“Every day, I receive at least one phone call from a dental
health care facility seeking graduates that are becoming CDAs, certified in
infection control and radiology health and safety and certainly those
individuals [who] have experience and an understanding of digital radiology
procedures,” Ryan says.
Courtesy of MCC Dental Assistant Program.
Published on April 13,