President’s eMessage, January 2018: Supporting Allied Dental Health Professional Education in Our Community

I was pleased to be a part of the Allied Dental Health Professionals (ADHP) Committee as your President -Elect.  Our last meeting of the year was with committee leaders Drs. Shakalpi Pendurkar, Gina Johnson, Kitty Steinborn and Executive Director Candace Roney.  We reviewed the applications for the Smithwick Scholarship for Dental Assisting and the SCCDS Dental Hygiene Scholarship.

The late Dr. Smithwick has provided funds to be used specifically for dental assisting education. SCCDS provides funds from our operating budget for dental hygienists, which essentially matches the funds distributed for the dental assisting scholarships. Both of these scholarship funds need replenishing and members will hear more from our Foundation about raising funds for these in the near future.

Not only has the cost of a dental education reached crisis proportion, it can cost up to $18,000 for an 11 month private dental assisting education and up to $60,000 for a 20 month private dental hygiene education.  The public school programs are much less expensive.

The ADHP Committee accepts applications for our scholarships each year. The scholarships are funded every December in time to help students pay for fall tuition. Certificates are given and awarded at our February meeting, and the recipients are invited to bring a guest to the meeting.

The three doctors mentioned above and I voted from amongst a stack of resumes and applications submitted to the ADHP committee.

The $750 dental assisting winners are as follows:

  • Jasmine Arias-Slater, Foothill College
  • Devonna Martinez, San Jose City College
  • Ylana Nguyen, Silicon Valley Career Technical Education Center

The $750 dental hygiene winners are as follows:

  • Melvin Avalos, Carrington College
  • MyNu Nguyen, Foothill College
  • Jenny Yanga, Foothill College

Dental assistants and dental hygienists are vital members of our practice team. Not only are these scholarship funds helpful for the students, this gives us a chance to recognize the best and the brightest in allied dental health. We hope to inspire those who are recognized, and we also hope to inspire their classmates to work hard enough to qualify for scholarships of this kind in the future.

With the Silicon Valley economy booming, dental practices will realize a shortage of dental assistants and dental hygienists due to higher wages and increased employee benefits provided by high-tech companies. Santa Clara County dental assisting programs are currently exhibiting decreased enrollment. The California Dental Association House of Delegates voted in 2017 to establish a task force to look at allied dental health professional shortages.

Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, said, “Knowledge is power.” I am a huge advocate for education that provides a specific skill set like the allied dental health professionals learn. Dentistry is a wonderful profession that offers stable and self-actualizing jobs to our office staff.  Of this, we can all be proud!

Ned L. Nix, DDS, MA
President, SCCDS

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