NIC, Heritage Health launch new dental hygiene program

| October 1, 2020 1:00 AM

North Idaho College is partnering with Heritage Health to offer a new dental hygiene degree program.

Students who complete the two-year program will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene and will be eligible to sit for the national exam to become a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Courses will begin in January 2021 at two locations, the NIC main campus in Coeur d’Alene in partnership with Heritage Health, and the Lewis-Clark State College dental clinic on its main campus in Lewiston.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with North Idaho College,” said Bill Davenport, the Coeur d’Alene Clinic Director for Heritage Health. “In addition to our space, our staff will be contributing their expertise and knowledge to NIC students. Creating a pipeline of potential employees is a bonus for us and this is about helping our community partner.”

NIC students in Coeur d’Alene will use Heritage Health’s dental clinic and equipment after normal business hours throughout the week.

“I think our partnership is a perfect arrangement for the NIC dental hygiene students,” said Janis McClelland, Program Director of the Dental Hygiene program. “The opportunity to work alongside Heritage Health to serve the dentally underserved population of our community is tremendous.”

The program will be delivered using online courses, internet video conferencing that allows students from each institution to participate in lectures as a large group, and then lab and clinic time on the respective campuses and in partnership with clinics.

McClelland said the hybrid delivery model is unique and has required in-depth development and coordination to achieve initial accreditation status, which was granted last month.

“The students will gain valuable clinical experience while providing services that patients would normally have to wait months for,” said McClelland. “This is definitely a fantastic opportunity for our community and our students.”

Students will learn a wide array of dental procedures and work on actual patients. These patients will come from a variety of sources, Heritage Health, community dentist referrals, and from the students’ own recruitment of family, friends and community members.

Dental screenings will be performed to determine the need for dental care and to provide preventive oral care services. Under the supervision of faculty and dentists, the students will be providing procedures such as radiographs, head and neck oral cancer exams, periodontal assessments and periodontal treatment in addition to cleanings and polishing, fluoride and desensitizing treatments, dental sealants, sports guards and a complete dental examination.

The application process for the Dental Hygiene program closes Thursday, Oct. 8.

Information: or NIC Health Professions Advisor Betsy Conery at 208-625-2320, or NIC Dental Hygiene Program Director Janis McClelland at 208-929-4014.