We, the Northern British Columbia Dental Hygienists Society are writing this letter in response to the CNC executive’s recommendation to suspend the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs. Like many others who heard this news, we were stunned by such a thought. These programs have brought much needed oral health education and employment to the north. As a society of more than 140 dental hygiene members from the north, almost all of us were educated at CNC over the past 28 years. Most of us are also employed in northern dental offices along with dental assistants whom were also educated at CNC. We have seen that individuals trained in the north stay in the north. In an effort to attract and keep dental professionals working in the north, sending students south for their education does not make sense. This will substantially change the employment pool for dentists in the north. It doesn’t make sense to suspend any educational programs that have full intakes each year and whose graduates are employed, at wages that contribute greatly to the economy in the north.
We have heard that the executives have said that the CNC dental clinic requires substantial upgrades to continue operation. We believe this is very untrue. Firstly, we know that many students along with faculty and staff did extensive fundraising on their own this past winter to upgrade the clinic with computers for digital capabilities, charting, and patient scheduling. We understand that this goal was met and as such these computers are scheduled to be installed for the next class intake. It would be a shame now to suspend these programs when they have this upgrade set to go. Secondly, we know that these programs recently received a seven-year accreditation. This also would not be possible if the clinic was outdated and the students’ clinical education did not meet their standards.
As graduates from the CNC dental hygiene program we know the rigor of this program and the high standards that this program demands. This program meets the national competencies and as such its graduates have achieved a 100% pass rate on the national board exam.
It seems like things do not add up. If a budget deficit is the problem that CNC executives are facing, then they need to look at different ways of making up this deficit. Approaching the Minister of Advanced Education for additional funding could be a start. Perhaps they should be actively seeking additional funding sources. The idea of suspending these valued programs with no concrete plan in place for reopening needs to be reconsidered. There are always options, and alternative options need to be explored before suspending these programs.