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Oregon Tech’s highly selective Salem Dental Hygiene bachelor’s degree at Chemeketa Community College graduates sixth class

Mar 12, 2019
This year, the Class of 2019 had continued success on National and Regional board examinations- continuing the trend of each graduating class’ success over the years

Dental SalemSALEM, Ore.—Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech’s) very selective Dental Hygiene bachelor’s degree program is proud to announce the graduation of its sixth class March 17, 2019, at Chemeketa Community College (CCC) in Salem. Offered in partnership with CCC on their campus, the 20 graduates are now qualified to apply for the top dental hygiene licensure in Oregon with an Expanded Practice Permit. Oregon Tech is the only public university in Oregon that offers a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene, and limits the annual number of students at its Salem location to 20 in order to keep quality high and student/faculty ratios low. Generally, 60-80 students vie for those 20 slots.

Since the opening of the program at Chemeketa in 2011, more than 100 students have graduated from the site. This year, the Class of 2019 had continued success on National and Regional board examinations- continuing the trend of each graduating class’ success over the years. Oregon Tech graduates have a lot to look forward as they enter the job market. Graduates do very well in the job market with the majority of them receiving job offers either before or right after graduation from the program; and they also garner high average starting salaries of $65,000, with career salaries growing far above that. The program has a 100 percent success rate of graduates being employed (97 percent) or pursuing advanced degrees (3 percent) within six months of graduating.

The partnership model between Chemeketa Community College and Oregon Tech is unique and was the first bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene program housed on a community college campus. The model allows Oregon Tech to reach an entirely new community outside of its dental hygiene program at its residential campus in Klamath Falls. The program has developed several clinical affiliations with community clinics that students rotate through, including Salem Boy’s & Girl’s Club dental clinic; Salem Free Clinic; and Capitol Dental. They also collaborate with OHSU-Monmouth campus Nursing Program to provide health education to elementary students.

The Dental Hygiene bachelor’s degree prepares students with an intensive program including labs, dental hygiene patient care, restorative dentistry, local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation. The students work on community health projects from inception, to seeking grants, to implementation.

In 2014, the program received donations from the dental community in Salem exceeding $200,000 to start a dental clinic on the campus, and students have served within the clinic since that time. The Class of 2019 saw nearly 2,000 patients through the clinic, many of whom are low income. Students also coordinate and provide dental education and preventive services to populations including day care centers, high school teen parents, farmworkers programs, military veterans and assisted living center residents.

The students in this program have also been involved with statewide community projects such as Mission of Mercy, in which they were the first dental hygiene students in the state of Oregon to provide direct patient care such as local anesthesia for oral extractions and dental cleanings. For the last two years they have also partnered with Compassion Connect to provide free dental care to individuals in need. Additionally, each year there is also a small group of students who travel with the International Externship Program to underserved regions to provide dental care. The Class of 2019 had 11 individuals travel to Jamaica.

Graduates of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2019 are a unique group, made up of mostly women and one man this year. Graduates will be prepared to work in private practices and clinics, medical facilities, research facilities, public health clinics, educational facilities and professional sales, with the majority planning on staying in Oregon.

Time and Location of Graduation: Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m.; Chemeketa Community College, Auditorium (Building 6) 4000 Lancaster Dr NE Salem, OR 97305

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