Dental assisting program receives accreditation

Clarissa Cepeda, left, and Aime Quilantan, both dental hygiene majors, practice on the West Campus.

The dental assisting program at Amarillo College now has national accreditation, which means graduates of the program are qualified to take national exams.Students who pass the national exams are eligible to work anywhere in the United States.The Commission on Dental Accreditation awarded the accreditation this September.CODA operates under the American Dental Association to establish educational standards of ethics and excellence that help ensure the public receives care from skilled professionals.The process to achieve accreditation was labor-intensive and rigorous. “Dana Scott, the program director for dental assisting, and her staff, Erica Brassfield and Nikki Darrah, decided they wanted their program to be recognized as one that is programmatically accredited beyond that of SACS-COC, the regional accrediting body for Amarillo College,” said Mark Rowh, dean of health sciences. “Specific accreditation status raises the academic bar for our college and the students in the dental assisting program.” In order to become accredited through CODA, Scott and her staff had to assess and evaluate clinical settings, the laboratory, the entire curriculum offered in the classroom and student admission policies.

They looked at each course and mapped learning objectives to relate the information to competency and student outcomes. “Dana, Erica and Nikki worked evenings, weekends and holiday breaks to make this a reality. I am very proud of them and the hard work that paid off,” Rowh said. National accreditation will benefit the students in the program. “Dental assisting students have several options when obtaining an education,” Rowh said. “It is a better choice for them if they attend a dental assisting school that is regionally and programmatically accredited here at AC.” Brassfield, one of Scott’s assistants, said the dental assisting program is exceptional.”Graduates of our program go on to have successful careers and provide quality services to our dental community,” she said.

Brassfield said the curriculum, facility and resources provided to the students are a testament to AC’s mission to enrich the lives of students and the community.“Students attending Scott’s program can be assured optimal experiences that are more affordable as compared to other options,” Rowh said. “Our students are hired quickly, too.” “We proclaim 100 percent pass rate on state exams,” Scott said. “That is why we sought accreditation, so we could take the national exam.” “The 100 percent pass rates of our state exam show that our students are receiving the education they deserve,” Brassfield said. The dental assisting program began in 1974.It is a one-year program that gives students entry-level skills for working in a dentist’s office. For more information about the program, call 806-371-5000 or visit

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