Northern Essex Community College is expanding its health care programs with a night Dental Assisting Program as well as offering micro-credentials for area health workers thanks to a $400,000 state grant.
The money is part of $11.7 million distributed this year under the Massachusetts Skills Capital Program. Grants help high schools, colleges and other educational institutions invest in the most up-to-date training equipment in such fields as construction, engineering, hospitality and health.
“This is great news for the college, our community partners and anyone who accesses health services in the Merrimack Valley,” said Scott Lancaster, interim dean of health professions. “Our facilities for training health care workers are the best. That, combined with the quality of our faculty, means our students are getting the best preparation for future careers in health care.”
The college will use the money to replace the 40-year-old dental assisting lab in the Dimitry Building on Franklin Street in Lawrence with a new state-of-the-art lab and add the night Dental Assisting Program option to the existing day option. The new dental lab will feature five operatory dental chairs as well as other equipment.
In addition, the college will purchase three new manikin simulators and, for the first time, offer high-demand micro-credentials for area health workers who are required to update credentials regularly.
The college is recruiting students now for the first Evening Dental Assisting Program, which begins in March. The three-semester program includes a 300-hour dental assisting practicum in the final semester.
The college’s Day Dental Assisting Program currently has a capacity for 30 students. Adding the night option increases capacity to 55 students.
Dental assistants provide patient care and maintain patient records, in addition to working closely with dentists and dental hygienists and assisting during procedures and examinations.