TNCC Dental Hygiene Grads Achieve 100 Percent Pass Rate on National Boards

Published: June 17, 2013

Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) Dental Hygiene graduates have achieved a 100 percent pass rate on national board and licensing exams marking the second consecutive year the program experienced such success.

The College added the Associate Degree Program in Dental Hygiene in August 2010 to complement its offerings in the Health Professions division. Housed at TNCC’s Historic Triangle campus in Williamsburg, the program had seven graduates this year and eight in 2012. “All [15 students] passed the National Boards and SRTA [Southern Regional Testing Agency] licensing exam the first time. Our students are performing above the national average,” said TNCC’s Dental Hygiene Program Director Dr. Harold Marioneaux.

A 2013 graduate, Kathryn Owen, is happy about passing board and licensing exams at first attempt and she is equally excited about her future. “I feel well educated and prepared for my work field. TNCC has fabulous instructors in the Dental Hygiene program. They take time to prepare each lesson in regard to what has been on previous boards. My best experience at TNCC was graduation and the feeling of accomplishment [and] knowing that dreams do come true through hard work and dedication,” she said.

Owen, a Poquoson resident, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene at Old Dominion University (ODU) and plans to earn a Master’s degree in the field. “This completion program is online so I do plan to get a job as a hygienist,” she added.

Another 2013 graduate, Amy Samuel-Thomas is pleased to see the results of hard work. “It is such a relief but a wonderful feeling knowing that I have accomplished something that was very difficult. I know that I could not have done this without TNCC. The Dental Hygiene [faculty and] staff are very encouraging and they gave me confidence that I could do this even when I doubted myself. It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication,” said Samuel-Thomas, who lives in Williamsburg.

The Registered Dental Hygienist now works in a family dental office in Williamsburg and is preparing to enroll at ODU to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. She aspires to ultimately earn a Master’s degree in Public Health.

Capitalizing on their success at Thomas Nelson, the 2012 graduates secured jobs shortly after graduating last May. “They were all employed by July 2012,” said Marioneaux. Two students added another feather in the program’s cap when their papers were published in Access Magazine, a peer review journal of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. The papers, each about a different disease, were among Marioneaux’s Oral Pathology class requirements.

Marioneaux believes the Dental Hygiene program will continue yielding positive results given prospective students’ heightened interest in enrolling and community support of the services its dental clinic provides. Community members can receive an array of oral health services performed by students under faculty supervision including dental sealants, extrinsic stain removal, full-mouth radiographic series, custom fluoride tray and more. “The dental clinic has seen about 1,200 patients since we opened the doors. [And] we have about 148 patients waiting for appointments. Our clinical experiences are excellent for students,” he said.

He also attributes the program’s success to the community outreach opportunities it affords students. Students have volunteered the past two years in the “Give Kids a Smile” program which provides free services at a local dental clinic. They have also provided free exams to support the Department of Veterans Affairs. Plans to extend free services to the Wounded Warriors program are in the works, he added.

For more information about Thomas Nelson’s Dental Hygiene Program visit For dental clinic appointments and payment information, call (757) 258-6604.

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