Dental hygienist training at the UW School of Dentistry is expanding significantly, thanks to a new partnership between the school and Shoreline Community College.
This year, 10 Shoreline students in the second year of their school’s accredited two-year program are training at the School of Dentistry before receiving their Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Sciences degree. Next summer, the program will shift entirely to the UW with Shoreline’s continued participation. At least 10 first-year students will be admitted then, but Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry said that the goal is to increase that number eventually to 25 each year.
Shoreline’s popular program needed to relocate to a different physical facility due to a campus construction project. Talks between Shoreline and the School of Dentistry soon revealed strong interest on both sides in a collaboration that would allow the program to be housed at the UW.
“This new partnership strengthens what is already a high-quality learning experience for our dental hygiene students,” said Dr. Cheryl Roberts, Shoreline’s president. “The addition of working closely in a training environment with UW Dentistry students, faculty, and patients will help our students become even better prepared for careers in this fast-growing industry.”
The School of Dentistry will be a familiar setting for Shoreline dental hygiene students, who have served rotations at the school’s clinics, including the Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities clinic. The partnership will also allow Shoreline students to gain valuable pediatric dental training at the UW’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry.
Dental hygiene education has a long history at the UW. It began in 1950 under the direction of the late Dr. Esther Wilkins, who is widely regarded as the godmother of modern dental hygiene. She wrote the landmark textbook, Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, in 1959. Now in its 13th edition, the book remains in wide use.
At the UW, Dr. Wilkins created a four-year dental hygiene program and a degree completion program. The baccalaureate program was discontinued in 1983, but the school still offers a master’s and doctoral degrees.
Dr. Wilkins was succeeded in 1961 by Dr. Martha Fales, who served until 1986 and left her own distinctive mark through her leadership of the program and advocacy on health issues. After her death in 2018, Dr. Glen Johnson, professor emeritus of restorative dentistry at the UW, said, “This program was a model for hygiene education worldwide, and a very well-functioning program through which hygiene students, patients, and dental students benefited greatly.”
“We are thrilled that this partnership with Shoreline has moved forward,” said Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry. “The ability to have dental hygiene students learn and practice in coordination with dental students will benefit all students and our patients. This model resembles how dental hygienists and dentists work together in practice and will provide a substantial advantage for our students. The integrated programs are a model for dental and dental hygiene education.”