Westwood Dental Assisting Program

New dental assistant degree program opens in Denver area

March 18, 2014
New learning lab will serve as the foundation for Westwood’s new Dental Assisting Associate Degree program

Westwood College recently unveiled its new premier dental learning lab at the Denver North Campus. It will serve as the foundation for Westwood’s new Dental Assisting Associate Degree program. To celebrate the opening with the community, a few area dentists were on hand to provide free dental screenings.

Westwood’s new lab contains four complete dental office stations, a complete sterilization station, a fully-equipped casting lab for dental impressions, and a panorex radiology station where students will learn to work with both digital and film X-ray technology. The lab can comfortably accommodate up to 24 students working in the four different areas.

“We set out to design a lab that would resemble a modern, comprehensive professional dental office to give our students an advantage in learning the dental assistant profession, and we are proud of the result,” said Westwood President and Chief Marketing Officer Rick Yaconis. “We are really excited to have our first class of students jump in here and put this facility through its paces.”

After a brief presentation introducing the new learning lab that was led by Yaconis and Westwood CEO Dean Gouin, the dentists and dental assistants took advantage of the new equipment and provided community members and students from Lester Arnold High School free dental screenings to gauge general dental health.

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“This is a wonderful facility and we are proud to be here,” said Arbor Dental Group Practice Manager Karry Urbalejo. “We know important work will go on here that will benefit our profession, and we are so impressed with what Westwood has put together for this new program.”

Westwood and Arbor Dental have developed a curriculum for the dental assisting program that matches the new lab in excellence. On top of practical, hands-on skills students will learn in the lab, they will also learn the soft skills needed to contribute to all facets of an operating dental practice.

“In my 23 years of working in the dental field, the one area I always hear students need more development is in overall professionalism, and we will stress those skills,” said Program Chair Carol Rykiel. “Our students will take college level math and English courses to sharpen their computer skills. When our students graduate with an associate’s degree, they will have the needed technical skills, but more importantly, we will improve their interpersonal skills so they will be able to solve problems and communicate more effectively.”

“I’m kind of obsessed with my teeth, so I thought this would be a great career for me,” said Westwood student Desiree Ewings. “The facility is really nice and I like that they are pushing us hard in the classroom.”

Westwood has eight students enrolled in its inaugural dental assistant class, which began in January and takes 17 months to complete. Enrollment is underway for the next class, which will begin in March. For more information, visit westwood.edu.