OXNARD : Dental Hygiene Program Proposed

Ventura and Moorpark colleges have their nursing programs. Now, Oxnard College, the smallest of Ventura County's three community colleges, is trying to carve out its own niche in training health care professionals with the county's first dental hygiene program.

According to a recent report on the need for such training in the area, the program could attract as many as 970 students from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Trustee Norm Nagel, an orthodontist with offices in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley, initiated the idea for a dental hygiene program at Oxnard College.

"It just made sense," he said. "We don't need another nursing program in this district, but here is a need for dental hygienists. Right now dental assistants who want to become hygienists fret because they have to go all the way to Los Angeles."

The nearest public dental hygiene programs are at Pasadena City College and West Los Angeles College, according to Nagel.

A 20-person committee of district officials and dentistry professionals--including the president of the California Dental Hygienists Assn.--began meeting last month to develop a proposal for approval by the district board of trustees early next year.

Already, the dean of USC's School of Dentistry has voiced support for the idea. To receive accreditation from the American Dental Assn., the program must be sponsored by a school of dentistry.

Committee members will meet Monday to discuss the accreditation process and funding options.

"We have lots of interest in the program," Nagel said. "All we need now is the money."

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