The League for Innovation in the Community College awarded its 2007 Innovation of the Year Award to Monroe Community College’s Dental Hygiene program for its “Distance Dental Hygiene Project.” In partnership with Jamestown and Jefferson community colleges, the project is designed to alleviate shortages of dental hygienists in rural counties by maximizing MCC faculty expertise and distance learning resources available through the State University of New York (SUNY).
“We were all accustomed to doing these classes face-to-face,” says Forsyth, who makes regular visits to the other colleges. “All of a sudden, we had to imagine ourselves not being there on a day-to-day basis and only dealing with students in an online environment.”
The “Distance Dental Hygiene Project” team included David Lawrence, program director; Marsha Bower, associate professor; and professors Susan Forsyth, Charlene Blanchard, Nancy Rivaldo and Saroj Viswanathan.
In partnership with Jamestown and Jefferson Community Colleges, MC’s Dental Hygiene Program has extended to Cuba, Dunkirk and Watertown. The project, which earned the approval of the department’s accrediting body, the American Dental Association, has a goal of graduating at least 18 of an initial cohort of 24 students admitted in fall 2006. Twenty remain.
In his nomination letter, Frank Rinehart, dean of Science, Health and Business, praised the team’s “carefully planned, nurtured and supported” project for “attracting interest from around the state and nation.” After one site visit, an ADA official asked for additional details in hopes of starting a similar project in Oregon.
According to Jamestown Community College Dean Marilyn Zagora, the program “Has already had a significant position impact on our corner of the world, helping galvanize our dental community to unite around shared goals.”
The next step for MCC would be to explore additional partnerships and bring the program to other communities that could benefit from the expertise of this award-winning team.