Those eligible to apply for admission are students who have earned an associate degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and hold an unrestricted license to practice dental hygiene in the U.S.
Currently, GHC admits 14 students per year to the associate degree dental hygiene program, according to its website. The new program will act as a bridge for students.
“We chose dental hygiene as our next bachelor’s degree in a health-related field for several reasons,” Laura Musselwhite, the interim vice president for academic affairs, said. “The University System of Georgia is very clear; they want to build degree programs that are workforce related or related to the economic development of the region. Dental hygiene is a good fit for us because here at GHC it is a category of expertise. We have a good track record with that program and we have a ready and willing pool of our own dental hygiene associate students to participate.”
The degree will accept 40 students per year and begins summer 2015.
In a written statement, Dr. Renva Watterson, the interim president of GHC, said, ““We are so very proud to announce this addition to our outstanding academic offerings at GHC,” stated Watterson. “To be able to provide students the ability to continue on and earn their baccalaureate-level degree at an institution with our reputation for excellence is not only an asset for the students but also for the communities we serve.”
Musselwhite added that the addition of four-year, health-related fields are beneficial to GHC, but also to students and the community. She said it gives students the ability to move forward in their career and the region benefits when new workers with higher skill levels enter the workforce.
Fourteen institutions within the state offer dental hygiene associate degree programs and two universities, Georgia Regents University and Clayton State University, provide the bridge program from associate to bachelor’s degree.
“While KSU and UWG are nearby four-year institutions, we believe it is important for GHC to continue to look at adding more bachelor’s degree because many of our students are non-traditional and some are place bound. We feel it is vital that we provide opportunities for them here in the community,” Musselwhite said.
The college’s first bachelor’s program, which began fall 2013, is a degree bridging registered nurses to a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing. The program, offered completely online, will have its first graduating class in December 2014.