Bulletin of Dental Education

Perkins Grant Secures Dental Sensors for Digital Radiographs

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Manchester CC_Dental Assistant Digital role play training_900 px wideThanks 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 Medicine.

“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, 2022

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