Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech) very selective Dental Hygiene program is proud to announce the graduation of its 2nd class on March 7, 2015 at Chemeketa Community College (CCC) in Salem. Offered in partnership with CCC on their campus, the 19 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 to 20 in order to keep quality high and student/faculty ratios low. Generally 40-60 students vie for those 20 slots.
Oregon Tech’s graduates have a lot to look forward as they enter the job market. The inaugural Class of 2014 had a 100% passing rate on National and Regional board examinations, close to 100% employment rate within months of graduation, and average starting salaries ranging from $52,000-64,000. Besides its Dental Hygiene bachelor’s programs at CCC in Salem and on its Klamath Falls campus, Oregon Tech also offers an associate degree in Dental Hygiene in La Grande in partnership with Moda Health.
“With the Dental Hygiene profession rapidly changing as a result of research showing the oral health connection with overall body health, this is an exciting time to enter the profession,” said Paula Hendrix, Program Director of Oregon Tech’s Chemeketa-based program. “Dental hygienists have more career options and opportunities than ever to collaborate with other health professionals to treat the whole patient.”
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. The class of 2015 has served many populations including veterans, low-income senior citizens, migrant farms workers, developmentally disabled adults, and low-income children. A group of these graduates also traveled to Honduras last September with the International Externship Program to provide dental hygiene services to children for two weeks. This was a life changing trip for these students and is becoming more popular each year.
Hendrix added, “All of us at Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene at Chemeketa are so proud of this wonderful group of professionals about to graduate from this rigorous program. They are determined, caring and compassionate and have entered the profession to truly serve people. They have already cared for diverse populations and have volunteered their services throughout their time here. One of our goals is to teach the students the importance of giving back to their community and this group has taken that to heart. We are excited for them to become our professional peers, but we will also miss them greatly.”
Graduates of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2015 are a unique group, made up of all women this year, and including returning veterans, career-changers, parents, students of different ethnicities, first-generation (in their family to earn a degree), and many who come into the program with a degree in another field already. 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.
This year’s graduates hail from several communities in Oregon including Salem, Albany, Keizer, Dallas, Jefferson, Mt. Angel, Clackamas, Beaverton, Tillamook, and Rainier; and from Twin Falls and Pocatello, Idaho.
Dental Hygiene Graduation Ceremony Details:
Time: Saturday, March 7 at 11:00 am
Location: Chemeketa Community College, Building 6 Auditorium, 4000 Lancaster Dr. NE, Salem, OR