The Dental Hygiene program is back on track for the Fall of 2012 at the University of the Fraser Valley. After graduating four classes of graduates, the program took a breather, suspending applications for Fall 2011 while the university evaluated the labour market.
UFV will now offer an intake to the program every two years, starting in September 2012.
“We suspended intake for Fall 2011 as a precaution because we were concerned about employment market conditions for graduates, although graduates of the program continue to achieve above the national average in all content categories in the National Dental Hygiene Board examination,” notes UFV interim Health Sciences director Diane Reed. “We have since surveyed recent program graduates, and had in-depth talks and meetings with our advisory committee, including local dental hygienists, dentists, the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia, and the B.C. Dental Hygienists Association.
“All of the graduates we were able to contact are working. Some would like more hours, but we’re finding that it’s quite common in this field that the jobs are part-time in nature and people who want to work full-time have to combine part-time positions. Dental professionals and their professional organizations are all urging us to continue the program, telling us that the dental hygiene field will continue to grow.”
Reed anticipates that the flow of dental hygiene graduates from other provinces will be reduced because of tightened accreditation processes. The market for dental hygienists is anticipated to grow because of the aging population, more health-care focus on oral care in general, and anticipated new government initiatives focused on seniors’ and aboriginal oral health.
Under the new model, UFV will accept a new class of dental hygiene students every second September, and graduate a class every second spring.
Reed is particularly keen to get the word out about the Sept 2012 intake because students need one year of university-level prerequisites before entering the program. This means that students who want to take the program in Sept 2012 need to take these courses this fall and winter. She’s hoping that some students already enrolled in first-year sciences at UFV will consider the program.
Upon completion of the UFV Dental Hygiene program and before they can practise as a Registered Dental Hygienist, students must successfully complete the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board Examination. They are then eligible for registration with the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia.
Students end up with three years of post-secondary education. Their choices upon graduation include applying to enter the fourth-year of the dental hygiene degree program at the University of British Columbia or the Bachelor of Health Science program at Thompson Rivers University.
The diploma program prepares graduates for employment in a variety of settings including: general and specialty dental offices, dental hygiene practices, residential care facilities, hospitals, community health agencies, and teaching in dental supply companies.
Dental hygiene practice is expanding with increased opportunities for employment in non-traditional settings. Registered Dental Hygienists in B.C. may currently practise as self-employed contractors or as independent owners of their own practice.
Like the rest of UFV Health Sciences programs, the Dental Hygiene diploma program is based in Chilliwack and will be moving to the new Canada Education Park campus in 2012. The class entering the program in 2012 will be the first in the new location which will include brand new classroom, library, and dental clinic facilities.