New Dental Assistant Training Program at MCC Will Help Fill Big Healthcare Need

Manchester, CT – July 26, 2012 . . . Responding to high demand throughout eastern Connecticut, a new program dedicated to training dental assistants is accepting its first class of students at Manchester Community College this fall.

Based in a state-of-the-art training facility on the MCC campus, the new certificate program will develop trained professionals for career opportunities in a rapidly growing field while supplying area dentists with a much-needed pool of assistants.

A dental assistant “is the dentist’s right hand,” said Kathleen Jeffries, the veteran healthcare professional recruited to develop and direct the MCC program. Dental assistants perform a variety of duties, including helping the dentist during procedures, exposing x-rays, taking impressions and overseeing the sterilization of instruments. Demand for properly trained and credentialed assistants is high throughout the nation and growing every year, she said.

Training facilities are scarce in eastern Connecticut, however; and dentists throughout the region have been eagerly awaiting the MCC program, said Marcia Jehnings, director of the college’s Mathematics, Science and Health Careers Division. With the support and guidance of dentists in Manchester and elsewhere, the college has invested about two years’ time to develop the curriculum, hire Jeffries and set up the state-of-the-art, three-chair training lab, Jehnings said.

The new program puts students on the path to becoming certified by the Dental Assisting National Board – a professional benchmark dentists look for when hiring assistants. According to the national board and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an entry-level dental assistant can expect to earn, on average, about $17 an hour in Connecticut.

Graduates of the MCC program will be prepared to sit for the national board’s test for radiation health and safety (RHS) certification. “That’s huge,” Jeffries said. “Connecticut requires RHS certification of anyone taking X-rays.”

Although dental assisting is a job that has many technical demands, most importantly, “You have to like to work closely with people, and you have to have a desire to help people with their health,” said Jeffries, a certified dental assistant and educator who has set up two similar programs in the Midwest. The MCC program will prepare its students in three main areas, she said: radiation health and safety, infection control and chair-side assisting. The 31-credit curriculum includes courses on chair-side dental assisting, infection control, dental radiology, dental materials, dental practice management, oral anatomy and pathophysiology.

Students may elect to enroll in the academic portion of the program on a full- or part-time basis, completing the academics in as little as eight months. Students experience a mix of classroom work and hands-on practice in the training facility fully equipped with three dental chairs, sterilization equipment and digital x-ray apparatus.

The second half of the training is a full-time, 300-hour semester of clinical practice in a local dentist’s office, said Jehnings. It’s an opportunity that could potentially lead to permanent employment there, she said.

Prospective applicants must have a high school diploma and have completed courses in basic college English and math.

MCC’s first class begins August 29 and still has a few openings, said Jeffries. A second class will be available in January. Prospective students should apply through the Health Careers office, Room A-237 in the MCC Learning Resource Center. For more information on the admissions process, applicants may phone Tracy Poplasky at 860-512-2704 or email her at; or contact Jeffries at 860-512-2705 or email her at

The office will hold an informational session about its new program for those students interested in enrolling in Spring 2012 at 11 a.m. on August 28 in Room A226 of the MCC Learning Resource Center.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.


News Item Posted On: July 26, 2012
For Additional Information Contact: Paul Stern at 860-512-2930