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Training Hopes to Build Dental Workforce of Aroostook County

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:45 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

In the face of a national shortage of dental workers, a partnership between Adult education and a local dentist’s office is forging a new path to help build the dental workforce in Aroostook County. Brian Bouchard has the story.

“So the shortage affects us pretty much on a daily basis”

Dr. Norma Desjardins is a General Dentist and the Executive Director of St. Apollonia Dental Clinic, who recently has had a difficult time finding applicants to fill open positions.

“Normally in the past when we put out a call for applications, we receive applications. Currently the pool of applicants is dry. It does seem for sure like anybody who wants to work in Dental in the county, is working.”

And it isn’t just locally, but nationally as well. According to the American Dental Association Over half of all dentists are finding the task of recruiting dental assistants to be extremely challenging as of late. This challenge led St. Apollonia to partner with MSAD 1 Adult Education to offer a Dental Assistant Training Program to help build the dental workforce in Northern Maine.

“The shortage is so severe right now that they don’t have the manpower in the office to really give the training to the new hire that they really deserve, so we’re hoping to address that here. The course is structured for 10 weeks, it’s kind of a unique program, it’s a hybrid, as well as incorporates all the face to face and hands on as well”

LeRae Kinney is the Director of MSAD 1 Adult and Community Education, she says the program is designed to appeal to a variety of potential students. Ranging from High School Grads who want ‘in the County’ Training, to new hires at dentistry offices that haven’t received foundational training, to anyone who has an interest in the dental profession. Though the course isn’t required to become a dental assistant, Kinney says having the knowledge, training and experience the course provides can lead to higher wages. The ten week course will be held through a combination of remote learning via Zoom, In person learning, and hands on Clinical labs at St. Apollonia Dental Clinic, which will allow the students to apply what they learn in a real world environment. Julie Tucci, Practice Manager for St. Apollonia says this class will provide students with a supportive environment they may not get elsewhere.

“And I think what they’re going to discover is that there’s a field out there that they are going to love”

The course costs $3,950 dollars to enroll, though SAD 1 Adult Education has stated they will work to help connect students with funding sources, as well as offer payment plans to those qualified. MSAD 1 Adult Education will be holding an information session for those interested on May 16th at 6:30 PM at MSAD#1 Adult Education.

MSAD #1 Adult and Community Education Website: https://msad1.maineadulted.org/

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