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School of Health Professions :: Programs of Study

Dental Hygiene :: Program Policies

Click on a policy for more information.

>> VWCC Policy on Infectious Disease Status

Applicants who believe they are at risk of contracting an infectious disease should see testing and counseling prior to making application to the dental hygiene program. Students engaged in patient care activities are encouraged to know their HIV and HBV status.

Applicants who are HIV or HBV positive may wish to reconsider their career goals. They must consider:

  1. The possibility they may become disabled during their dental education or early in their career;
  2. The infectious hazards that certain aspects of dental practice may pose;
  3. The possibility of barriers to training in certain invasive clinical activities that may be imposed while in dental hygiene school because of possible hazards to patients;
  4. The cost of dental education given personal health and career uncertainties.

>> Essential Dental Hygiene Functions

To successfully complete the clinical component of the program, the student must be able to perform all of the essential functions of a dental hygienist:

  1. Communicate satisfactorily with clients, physicians, peers, family members and the health care team;
  2. See and hear adequately to note slight changes in the client's condition;
  3. Hear adequately to perceive and interpret various equipment signals;
  4. Demonstrate adequate eye/hand coordination for dexterity in manipulation of hand instruments and other equipment used in clinical practice;
  5. Use hands for fine manipulation;
  6. Manage the care of a client in a sudden emergency, including one-man CPR when necessary;
  7. Possess the visual acuity to correctly read handwritten orders, medication records, chart contents, and provide safety for clients;
  8. Read, comprehend, and apply knowledge from complex science and dental science texts.

Despite the foregoing, a qualified person with a disability who can perform these essential functions with reasonable accommodation will be considered for admission along with other qualified applicants.

>> Clinical Environment

The applicant should realize that student dental hygienists are, by nature of the profession, exposed regularly to highly stressed and demanding situations, difficult clients, and organizational and time pressures in a variety of client care settings. In addition, student and practicing dental hygienists are routinely exposed to blood and body fluids.

>> Academic Environment

The academic environment is focused heavily on the sciences. Extensive reading is required in all classes, and courses are science based and academically challenging. Ability to apply knowledge and concepts across courses and the curriculum is necessary to master material. The ability to read and understand complex/scientific material is crucial to success, as is the ability to analyze written matter and express yourself coherently in written form.

Applicants with weaknesses in reading, vocabulary, written expression, and conceptualization are strongly urged to strengthen these areas prior to seeking admission. It is recommended that a medical terminology course be taken prior to admission.

>> Student Responsibilities After Acceptance into the Program

  1. Admission is contingent upon a satisfactory medical examination indicating good general health. The medical examination must include evidence of a PPD skin test (or chest x-ray), and serology for the Hepatitis B surface antigen and antibody. The Heptavax vaccine is required. All documentation must be submitted to the Dental Hygiene Program Head no later than August 1 in order for the student to continue in the program.
  2. Current certification in Healthcare Provider cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is required for both years of the program. No substitutions are accepted. Students are responsible for providing their own malpractice insurance coverage during the two years of the program. Insurance is available for purchase after admission to the program. This policy is nonrefundable. All documentation must be submitted to the Dental Hygiene Program Head no later than August 1 for the student to continue in the program.
  3. All students admitted to the Dental Hygiene program must attend dental hygiene orientation, register for all classes, and pay their tuition prior to August 1. All students are required to purchase the instrument and supply kit, pay a lab usage fee, and are expected to order uniforms at orientation. If a student withdraws from the program, these items are nonrefundable.
  4. Students admitted to the program with academic contingencies in Biology, Chemistry, or Algebra must provide documentation of satisfactory completion of the contingency prior to the beginning of fall classes. Failure to meet a stated contingency will result in admission being rescinded.
  5. All students admitted to the program without prior experience in the dental field (chairside dental assisting) are required to observe dental and dental hygiene procedures in the dental office of their choice. The observation experience must be completed by August 1. Assistance in locating practitioners willing to provide observation experience may be provided in meeting this requirement. Written documentation of this experience is required; forms will be provided by the Dental Hygiene program upon admission.
  6. Students in the program are responsible for transportation to and from agencies utilized for clinical and community health rotation experiences.
  7. Acceptance into the Program is contingent upon a satisfactory annual criminal background check and annual negative drug screening test. Satisfactory completion of this is required for license eligibility. Costs of the tests are the responsibility of the student.

>> Policy for Academic Retention

Continuation in the program: Satisfactory progress is demonstrated by achieving a grade of "C" or better in required Dental Hygiene and Natural Science courses.

Students must satisfactorily complete BIO 141, BIO 142, and NAS 185 with a grade of "C" or above before progressing to the second year of the program. Students must complete required Dental Hygiene courses in sequence. Should a student receive a grade of "D" in any Dental Hygiene didactic course, didactic component of a clinical or laboratory course, or the laboratory component of a preclinical or didactic course, the student will be dropped from the program and must reapply for admission. Should a student receive a grade of "D" or "I" in the clinical component of DNH 142, 190, 244, or 245 due to failure to meet minimum clinical requirements for the semester, the student may progress to the next semester of the program with faculty approval. Two consecutive "D" grades in these clinical courses may result in the student being dropped from the program.

>> Readmission

Readmission to the program will be based upon academic performance and adherence to program policies regarding attendance and professionalism, and will be contingent upon available laboratory/clinical space. Readmission is not guaranteed. Students who have been dropped from the program must submit a written application for readmission to the Program Head no later than January 1 for the following fall semester, no later than April 1 for the following spring semester, and no later than August 1 for the following summer session. The Program Head will present the readmission request to the faculty for consideration. Students applying for readmission will be notified of their admission status in writing.

Students readmitted to the program are eligible to repeat a course only once, and a Dental Hygiene course must be repeated during the semester in which it is offered. The student may not continue with other required Dental Hygiene courses until the course is repeated. Students earning a grade of "F" in any Dental Hygiene course will be dropped from the program and are ineligible for readmission unless their are extenuating circumstances (serious illness, death of an immediate family member).

Advising/Info Office

Location: Fralin Center HP339
Phone: 540-857-7306
Fax: 540-857-6640

Mailing address:
3091 Colonial Ave., SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

Program Head

Martha H. Sullivan
Administrative Officer for Dental Hygiene, Associate Professor

A.S. - University of Louisville, 1982
B.A. - Mary Baldwin College, 1998
M.S.H.A. - Virginia Commonwealth University, 2001

College Catalog

School of Health Professions

Carole S. Graham, Dean
Administration & business contacts
Location: Fralin Center HP214C
Phone: 540-857-6717