Citing a shortage of dental assistants in New Hampshire and across the nation, Lisa Scott, Dental Assisting Program Coordinator at NHTI, Concord’s Community College, set about to develop an online course in its Dental Assisting Program.
Her efforts have resulted in Dental Assisting Science I, available for the first time this fall for New Hampshire high school juniors and seniors.
“I wanted to create something more accessible to students in the state who would have to drive a long distance to take the course if it wasn’t available online,” she said.
Dental Assisting Science I is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire’s eStart program, which offers courses with a tuition of just $150 plus the cost of books.
Scott said students who complete and pass the course, however, qualify for tuition reimbursement through the Governor’s STEM initiative.
“This is a great opportunity for students who might have an interest in this career pathway, and the cost is very minimal,” she said.
As for the course itself, it is 3-credits, which can be transferred when students are accepted into the dental assisting one-year certificate program, the only one in NH accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
Subjects covered in Dental Assisting Science I include the anatomy of the head with an emphasis on the osteological landmarks and structures of the oral cavity. Both the permanent and primary dentitions are covered, including embryonic development and eruption patterns, as well as an introduction to the structure and function of the human body systems in health and disease.
She said the course rhetorically answers several questions.
“Did you know every tooth has a name and a number?” she said. “Ever wonder what those bumps are all over your tongue?
Other questions include: Did you know the oral cavity can give us information about diseases in the rest of the body and did you know teeth were part of the digestive system?
“This course is a great way to explore the dental assisting profession as a career option,” said Scott, who said program graduates are able to perform a variety of duties.
“They are qualified to perform all of the expanded duties that are legal in New Hampshire, such as coronal polishing, exposing dental x-rays, placing sealants, monitoring nitrous oxide and other duties,” she said.
According to Scott, who is also a Certified Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist, the course serves as a gateway to what she describes as “an exciting and rewarding career.”
“As a healthcare provider, dental assistants help patients with good oral health and overall health, and it is a career I have very much enjoyed,” she said.
To learn more about the course, or enroll, contact Scott at email@example.com or Kelly O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program information is also available at https://www.ccsnh.edu/colleges-and-programs/programs-for-high-school-students-to-earn-college-credit/estart/2020-course-schedule.
While the continued pandemic presents many unknowns, the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA) continues to look for opportunities to engage both students and industry.
“The association had to pivot quite a bit to be able to support the hospitality industry to the best of our ability,” said Amie Pariseau, Education and Workforce Development Director.
On the education side of her job, Pariseau said she has been mindful of not wanting to lose her connection with students, many of whom are learning remotely.
“Jumping off the Virtual New Hampshire Hospitality Month idea, I built a YouTube channel called Explore NH Careers, which is also a website with the same name,” she said. “The YouTube channel will be shared with Extended Learning Coordinators, CTE teachers, traditional teachers, VLACS, and community partners, such as Project SEARCH, Girl Scouts, and Girls Inc.”
The content, she said, is varied and includes everything from cooking demonstrations and learning about cuts of beef to industry tours and industry chats.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Pariseau, who noted several industry members “are ready to join in on Zoom chats and demonstrations.”
“I will also be working with the Department of Education to learn about their preferred platform in order to share documents and other tools,” she added.
Regarding her focus on the workforce, Pariseau said she continues to promote the NH Restaurants, Hotels, & Attractions Job Board and connect community partners, such as Veterans Affairs to jobs.
“I just try to support them the best I can through this time,” she said.
According to Pariseau, though, the pandemic has presented NHLRA with a somewhat stark reality.
“In March through June, I lost the opportunity to showcase the industry to middle school and high school students,” she explained.
April had also been set as New Hampshire Hospitality Month in which 500+ students were scheduled to tour properties around the state and learn about the different opportunities and career pathways in the industry.
“I created a YouTube playlist for Virtual New Hampshire Hospitality Month, which I hoped to fill with tours,” said Pariseau. “With the industry trying to survive, it was particularly hard to ask them to participate, though, and so it’s mostly populated with cooking demonstrations.”
On the workforce side, the training NHLRA scheduled in partnership with Granite State College, “Fundamentals of Hospitality Management,” was canceled in the spring.
“With the college only offering programs virtually in the fall, we have decided to forgo this training at this time.,” she noted. “We have been working diligently, however, on sharing training tools through both the National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, which have been free or low cost.”
In looking ahead, Pariseau said she and NHLRA will continue to work on finding the best ways to interact with students.
“They are the future generation of this industry,” she said.
Without the ability to get them out to see the industry behind the scenes, talk to people who are passionate about what they do and give them hands on experiences, Pariseau acknowledges she is worried.
“I can’t promote hospitality as a viable career path,” she said. “Virtual learning is a real challenge for me to overcome to be able to promote the industry that drives New Hampshire’s economy, but it is one I am tackling head-on.”
To learn more about NHLRA, or NHLRA’s Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund which has provided close to $150,000 to hospitality employees impacted by the coronavirus, visit https://www.nhlra.com.