Metropolitan State University and Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) have recently announced a new Dental Hygiene Dual Enrollment partnership. The agreement was formally signed by RCTC's Interim President Mary Davenport and Metropolitan State President Virginia "Ginny" Arthur at a ceremony Tuesday, July 11, in the RCTC Dental Hygiene Lab.

This dual admission and enrollment agreement allows students in the dental hygiene associate degree program to smoothly and successfully transition from RCTC to Metropolitan State. Students who participate in the program are considered fully and simultaneously admitted to the RCTC Dental Hygiene Program and to Metropolitan State's Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program.

"Metropolitan State University is pleased to enter into this new partnership with Rochester Community and Technical College to offer students dual admission to our respective Dental Hygiene programs," President Arthur said. "This integrated pathway is the latest expression of Metropolitan State's deep commitment to providing access to high-quality bachelor's programs. Knowing that good dental health is essential to human flourishing, we are excited to welcome motivated students from RCTC to this program that leads to rewarding careers, prosperous communities and life-enhancing service to Minnesota's underserved families. I am pleased to join with President Mary Davenport and all our Minnesota State colleagues to ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans."

The partnership is designed to ensure seamless, simultaneous admission and enrollment at both institutions. The focus is to provide an accessible, high-quality liberal arts and professional education with continued emphasis on underserved groups, including adults and communities of color.

"It is so exciting to be partnering with RCTC to offer a baccalaureate degree completion program to meet the professional and educational goals of dental hygienists. The impact of increasing the number of dental hygienists prepared at the baccalaureate level on the oral health and overall health of the communities we serve is yet to be seen," said Judith Graziano, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. "One study showed that advancements in knowledge gained in a dental hygiene baccalaureate curriculum strengthened the learner's ability to think critically, to make evidence-based decisions and to provide more comprehensive care. In nursing, increasing the number of baccalaureate graduates in the work force translates to improved patient outcomes, and I'm confident that we will see the same impact from an increased number of baccalaureate prepared dental hygienists in the workforce."

The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) program at Metropolitan State prepares students for new opportunities in either traditional or non-traditional practice settings such as public health programs, school-based programs, research, marketing or sales roles. The dual admission enrollment partnership offers students the opportunity to take specific bachelor's level degree completion courses along with associate program coursework at RCTC. This opportunity provides dental hygiene students flexibility in their educational and career planning and laddering.

RCTC's dental hygiene program was developed in 1991 as the first successfully accredited, jointly offered (Rochester Technical College/Rochester Community College) dental hygiene program in the nation. It was a jointly offered AAS degree and utilized resources on both campuses to meet accreditation standards. It was also the first dental hygiene program in the Minnesota technical college system. Collaboration has always been a hallmark of the dental hygiene program at RCTC. To date, RCTC has had more than 300 graduates from the dental hygiene program.

For information about RCTC's Dental Hygiene AAS degree program contact program advisor, Eric Sime, or visit the RCTC website. For information on Metropolitan State's dental hygiene bachelor's degree and dual enrollment options contact Farrah Fossum, DH dual enrollment academic advisor.