Debi Gerger, RDH, MPH
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that dental hygiene is one of the fastest growing fields in the healthcare professions. WCU responded by expanding its degree programs to include a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Curricula was designed to invigorate students and reinforce the understanding that WCU’s degree and certification programs would provide them with the skills and confidence necessary to compete with the best and prepare them to take their place in the healthcare community.
Plans were put in motion to transform the fourth floor of WCU’s Anaheim, California campus into a dental hygiene teaching facility. The new facility opened its doors on April 13, 2009, welcoming its first class into the enhanced educational environment that will effectively prepare the students for a career in dental healthcare. The 6,226-sq. foot space holds a total of thirty chairs; ten of which have radiology equipment and twenty that will be used as simulation units.
“The decision to work with Henry Schein was made based on their willingness to work with and accommodate the needs of a dental hygiene program,” notes Department Chair in Dental Hygiene Debbie Gerger. “In our new space, we needed multiple patient chairs, radiology equipment, a sterilization center, supply room, and a simulation lab that would also serve as a dental materials lab; each required by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). WCU submitted an application to CODA citing its intention to begin a dental hygiene program at the same time that the planning stage for the project had begun with architects, interior designers, a construction company, and Henry Schein….”
Henry Schein’s team included Regional Manager Tom McCulloch, Zone Manager Russ Baker, Equipment Sales Specialist Eric Black, Field Sales Consultant Geoff Roush, Special Markets Managers Andrea Hight and Kathleen Titus, and Designer Gina Nameth. The team supported WCU’s overall goals and worked with them to roll out a facility with the best technological capabilities and specialized equipment for their purposes. The focus was on dependability and durability, adhering to the CODA standards, and as staying within WCU’s budgetary parameters. Henry Schein provided the design, patient chairs and equipment, cabinets, radiology equipment, sterilization center, and the simulation lab.
“We incorporated a paperless clinical environment with opportunities for students to learn the use of patient education and clinical software,” points out Debi Gerger. “The simulation laboratory provides the most realistic artificial patient experience prior to engaging in direct patient care.”
The ergonomically sound layout ensures a comfortable and stress-free movement of student and staff traffic as they attend to daily activities. Equipment Sales Specialist Eric Black comments, “[There is] easy flow for everyone using the facility and state-of-the-art equipment to support the instructors in helping their students reach the most desired skill levels in all they do. I believe this will be one of the most successful hygiene schools in the U.S.—one that many will want to attend.”
WCU’s new facility now proudly offers a comprehensive approach to an education leading to a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Department Chair Debi Gerger notes, “We are able to provide students with the training that will prepare them to become competent in their field in a sleek and modern environment that will be a pleasant experience for all.”