Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dental students say school deceived them

Dental students say school deceived them
By Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Originally published 01:07 p.m., April 10, 2008
Updated 01:07 p.m., April 10, 2008

Students training to become dental assistants at an Aurora college found out the hard way that their school wasn't what it said it was.

Last week, students at T.H. Pickens Technical College attempted to take an exam to obtain national certification as dental assistants. They were denied entrance into the exam because their school wasn't accredited by the American Dental Association, said student Hyde Easterwood of Aurora.

The students were shocked because the Pickens Web site and brochure said the dental assistant program was accredited, she said. After confronting school officials last Thursday, students learned that information was wrong.

"A lot of people were really upset," said Easterwood, 27. "I wasted four months already.

"I was just getting out and trying to get onto a new and better path of life. When you're getting screwed or lied to in that way, that crushes people's spirits."

Pickens lost its accreditation in September 2006, the ADA said Thursday.

The program had been accredited since 1976 and lost its standing after failing to update facilities, said Pickens spokeswoman Georgia Duran. The loss of accreditation did not relate to instruction, she said.

About 50 students who enrolled since January 2007 are affected, Duran said.

The good news is that Pickens students who want to work as dental assistants in Colorado are not hurt by this, Duran said.

Colorado does not require national or any other certification to work as dental assistants, according to the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Duran also said the loss of ADA accreditation wasn't an issue until now because only two students had taken the test for national certification in the last few years.

She said the Web site listed the national accreditation until a complaint was made last Thursday. Then the information was removed. She said it was an oversight that the wrong information had remained on the Web site this long.

"The bottom line is, we made a mistake," Duran said. "We're learning now more about that mistake and we are going to find a solution to help our students out.

"I don't know what that is at this point. I'm hoping that we can determine our next steps soon ... before the week is up."

Pickens is part of the Aurora Public School system and enrolls about 1,400 high school students and adults. The school is working on regaining its national accreditation for the dental assistant program.

Five schools in Colorado have national accreditation by the ADA, according to the Dental Assisting National Board Inc. in Chicago. They are Emily Griffith Opportunity School, Front Range Community College -Larimer, IntelliTec Medical Institute in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College and Pueblo Community College.

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