TNCC’s New Dental Hygiene Program Earns Accreditation

Published: August 12, 2010

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Thomas Nelson Community College’s (TNCC) Dental Hygiene Program has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and granted “initial accreditation” status. A specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education, CODA conducted an on-site review at TNCC in March, and as required, has scheduled its next on-site evaluation for spring 2012 before the program’s first class graduates.

The College added the Associate Degree Program in Dental Hygiene to complement its Allied Health offerings. Occupying 5,000 square-feet on the second floor of TNCC’s Historic Triangle campus facility, the program starts its first classes this month.

“I’m excited. It takes two years with a full-time Dental Hygiene faculty to prepare and submit the materials to CODA. We completed this task, conducted the site visit, received Virginia Community College System approval, approval from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia and received our accreditation designation in 15 months. That’s fantastic,” said TNCC’s Dental Hygiene Program Director Harold Marioneaux.

The program’s accreditation is of great significance to TNCC students. “A person has to have graduated from an accredited program in order to sit for the licensing exam. You can’t even get in the door to take the exam unless you’ve graduated from an accredited institution. The license enables a person practice – to work,” he added.

Marioneaux explained that the accreditation process begins when an institution submits an application to CODA. Afterwards, the institution completes a comprehensive self-analysis and self-study report detailing its resources, curriculum, policies and operational standards.

He said an on-site review by CODA team members with expertise in the program area follows. The team conducts interviews with administrators, instructors, staff and students to verify information in the self-study and ensure that the program meets minimum accreditation standards. Following the site visit, the institution and the Commission receive a detailed report written by the team.

The Commission meets twice a year to review site visit reports and make accreditation decisions, Marioneaux added. All accredited programs receive a follow-up site review every seven years, except for programs in the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery, which are reviewed every five years.

The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that dental hygienists rank among the nation’s fastest growing occupations. Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 36 percent through 2018 with favorable job prospects in most areas. However, prospects will vary by geographical location. Labor Department experts also note that the demand for dental services will steadily increase because of popula¬tion growth, older people increasingly retaining more teeth and a growing emphasis on preventative dental care.

For more information about TNCC’s Dental Hygiene Program, please visit


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