By Jesse Gallegos
Luna Community College
The Luna Community College Dental Assisting Program received national accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. It is the third Luna Community College Program to earn national accreditation or certification this summer.
In July, six students completed national and state certifications as journey man carpenters from the building technology program. The LCC Building Technology Program works in collaboration with the Associated General Contractors of America and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
Recently the nursing program earned national accreditation by the National League for Nursing Commission.
“The accreditation ensures that LCC dental assisting staff and faculty has the education and credentials necessary for effective teaching skills,” said LCC Dental Assisting Program Administrator Gloria Pacheco. “Students will have the level of expertise before they practice in a dental office. In addition, accreditation also provides students the opportunity to become certified dental assistants upon the completion of the program, versus the initial 3,500 clinical hours or the minimum four years practicing as a dental assistant in a dental office.”
The Luna Community College Dental Assisting Program received “approval for accreditation” status which means the program achieves or exceeds the basic requirements for accreditation.
“It took a lot of hard work,” said Pacheco. “It took documentation, slight changes in curriculum, and teaching material along with the resources and faculty and staff level of degrees. The student and teacher ratio is six to one which makes for a better learning environment in laboratory procedures.”
The next site visit from CODA is scheduled for 2017. CODA is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.
In addition to Pacheco, Dawna Ortega-Gallegos is a faculty member; Conni Reichert is the Allied Health Director and Elaine Montaño is the office manager. The 2011 LCC Dental Assisting graduates fall under the current accreditation.
Luna Community College has had a dental assisting program for over a decade and averages about 12 graduates a year.
Some of the plans for the dental assisting program includes running a community dental clinic in the current facility which is fully operational.
This would provide a well-needed service to the members of the Las Vegas area, along with surrounding communities.
“This will provide dental assistant students with skill building techniques (pre-clinical) before they go into an externship,” said Pacheco. “We need to continue to maintain a high level of expertise by continuing the education of faculty and staff, in order to stay up to date with the fast growing dental technology.”