The Dental Assisting Bridge (DEN) Program is a collaborative educational program being offered through a partnership between Skagit Valley College (SVC), Bellingham Technical College (BTC), and the Northwest Career and Technical Academy (NCTA) - located on the SVC campus. The program operates a full-functioning dental clinic, staffed with dental professionals, providing students with real-world, hands-on clinical experiences. BTC provides the Dental Assisting technical core curriculum, and accepts the identified dental course equivalencies for transfer. BTC’s Dental Assisting certificate and degree program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The accreditation allows students, upon graduation from BTC’s program, to take the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) Certification Examination to become a certified Dental Assistant.
This is a three-quarter program designed to provide entry-level skills and education to co-enrolled high school juniors, seniors and college students interested in a future career as a dental professional. The program helps prepare students for entry-level employment or transfer to continuing education and completion of a Dental Assistant Certificate or degree at the college level. This is a full-year program (Sept.-June) with courses scheduled sequentially. Classes are block-scheduled for 2.5 hours per day Monday-Friday. Students can choose either the 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 section or the 11:25 to 1:55 p.m. section.
The Dental Assisting Bridge curriculum is designed to provide students with a technical core of entry-level courses required in many college-level Dental Assisting programs. At completion of this program, students may choose to continue their Dental Assisting education or seek entry-level employment, such as Sterilization Assistant, Dental Receptionist, or employer provided on-the-job training necessary to move into a Dental Assistant position.
Students who transfer to BTC and complete the full Dental Assistant Certificate program are prepared to be a key member of the dental team and assist the operator chair-side during diagnostic, preventative and operative dental procedures, including exposing x-rays, placing sealants, polishing teeth, preparing dental materials, and placing temporary restorations. Most Dental Assistants are employed by private dental offices, but may also be employed by orthodontists, periodontists, hospitals, dental schools, state and local public health departments, federal agencies (including the military), or in clinics.
The primary goal of the collaborative Dental Assisting Bridge Program is to provide SVC students an opportunity to complete all of the required prerequisite and academic courses needed to successfully transfer to BTC’s accredited Dental Assisting program where they can complete the certificate or the two-year degree option. Qualified students who complete the full year Bridge Program may be eligible to earn up to 40.5 college credits that can be applied towards completion of BTC’s 85.5 credit Dental Assisting Certificate, or 90.5 credit AAS degree. Taking these courses on the SVC campus will save students time and money towards completion of a Dental Assisting degree or certificate. These courses may also transfer to other college’s dental-related programs. Students are advised to consult with a counselor/advisor about transfer of credit. See the DENTAL program page on the SVC website for more detailed information about eligibility requirements and process for transferring credits to BTC.
Program Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Dental Assisting program will be able to:
- Demonstrate academic, technical & professional skills that effectively contribute to the dental healthcare team.
- Demonstrate cognitive retention of dental terminology, theory and science.
- Perform expanded functions such as sealant placement, coronal polish, fluoride application, oral hygiene instruction, rubber dam isolation, and preparing dental materials.
- Practice four-handed chair-side dentistry on general chair-side procedures.
- Perform basic dental front office skills.
- Demonstrate critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, communication, and positive work ethics as they directly relate to the dental assistant profession.
- Prepare for continuing advanced education to complete a Dental Assisting Certificate or AAS Degree program.
- Prepare to obtain an entry-level position in their field of study.
Entry into the Program
Please apply at Enrollment Services. Students may enter the Dental Assistant program at the beginning of Fall quarter. For more information, contact the Department Chair or Enrollment Services.
A certificate is awarded to those students who complete courses with a minimum C grade or above in each course.
A micro-certificate is awarded to students who complete requirements with a minimum C grade or above in each course.