NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is doing more than just cleaning teeth and training future hygienists. It is also a vehicle for community service, according to the director of the Clinic, Dr. Marian Patton.
“We see about 400-500 patients mostly low-income including children at this clinic each year,” she said. “That’s almost comparable to a regular for-profit facility.”
As part of the teaching component of the Department of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Patton said the clinic’s main objectives are to train dental hygiene students and offer clinical services to the public. “Graduates of the program receive an Associate of Applied Science degree, which prepares them for diverse options in the health care environment,” she said.
With state-of-the-art equipment following a $2.5 million renovation funded by Title III and TSU, the clinic offers patients a wide scope of services including review of medical and dental history, diagnosis, radiography, oral health education, nutritional counseling, pit and fissure sealant, application of topical anesthetic agent, and tobacco assessment and cessation. “For a nominal fee, our patients also include students, faculty and staff,” she said.
“Under the supervision of faculty, students are stationed in various areas where they provide care. We also offer community education programs that emphasize obesity, geriatric services, and care for the homeless. “When they come to us or when we find them, we clean them up, correct any dental problem, and make them presentable for employment,” she said about the homeless.
“A portable (dental hygiene) unit, manned by our students is stationed at the Knowles Assisted Living Home, where we provide care for low-income patients. This kind of hands-on training and education our student receive make them highly employable after they finish our program.”
Dental hygienists, she said, are at the top of the list of the most sought-after professionals out there. “When our students go out they are highly employable. You will find them in the VA (Veteran Affairs) hospital, private offices and all around Nashville and beyond,” she said.
The program graduated 36 students this spring, Dr. Patton said. “We have a premier program, “ she said, adding that it is the only one of its kind in Nashville.
The fully accredited dental hygiene program was transferred from Meharry to TSU 1974. “We collaborate with Meharry Medical College for enhanced training and for services that are beyond out scope,” Patton said.
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