MSSU-Southeast Initiative to Create Dental Hygiene Training Centers

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 24, 2006 — For many years, the central and southeast regions in Missouri have had the greatest need in the Show Me State for qualified dental hygienists.  The problem has been that no schools in these regions offered programs to train these skilled professionals.

Now, help is on the way.   Under a new initiative being developed by Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) in Joplin and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, satellite clinical facilities will be established at two locations, the Sikeston Higher Education Center and the Rolla Technical Center.

Dr. Tia Strait, dean of the School of Technology at Missouri Southern, says a Congressional Directed grant of $920,000 will provide equipment for the two facilities.  She says money for faculty and staff will come from a $250,000 Economic Development grant. 

Strait says the dental hygiene theory based-classes will be provided by MSSU to the satellite training facilities by way of Instructional Television (ITV) and online courses.  Southeast will be providing the science and general education core requirements to prepare students for the rigor of the dental hygiene program.  Hands-on training will continue to be provided at the sponsoring institutions for clinical experience classes.  Both the Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) and the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) must approve the programs.

“We feel very fortunate in joining in a partnership to provide these services,” says Missouri Southern State University President Dr. Julio León.  “We are excited about this initiative and will be working very hard in coming months to make it a reality.”

“It’s very important to work together to achieve the creation of the Satellite Clinics,” says Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins.  “With these new facilities we will be able to provide training for regions that have gone too long without trained professionals to provide adequate preventative oral care.”

Although the two grants will provide initial funding for the clinics, MSSU and Southeast must obtain state funding for the fiscal year 2008 budget to sustain the program.

A full-time dental hygienist can earn as much as $45,000-50,000 or more a year.