LIMA — Dental hygiene students at Rhodes State College are entering the digital age.
The Northwestern Ohio Dental Society presented the dental hygiene program with a check for $12,000, which has been used to purchase 28 laptop computers for student and faculty use. Acquiring this new technology will help the on-campus dental clinic transition into a paperless facility.
“The accrediting institution that accredits our department recommended that we proceed with procuring more digital technology,” dental hygiene instructor Dr. Richard Ramsey said. “We used to have reams of paper for every patient, and now everything will be stored electronically in the cloud, so we won’t have to worry about backup servers.”
Technological advances in medical records have made it easier to not only maintain records but to transfer them between practitioners, making it easier on the patients as they are referred to various specialists.
“It not only saves paper but time as well,” Ramsey said. “We used to have to send X-rays in the mail if a patient had to go to an oral surgeon. Now, if a patient has to be referred, we can send the x-ray immediately, so that when the patient calls to make the appointment, that office has a picture of the x-ray right away.”
These laptop computers will aid not only in electronic record keeping but in classroom instruction.
“These will be used with classroom and laboratory instruction, and they will complement the computers that are already in the clinic,” said Dr. Denise Bowers, chair of Rhodes State’s Dental Hygiene Program. “So when we introduce new information, we can introduce it in the classroom and in the lab, and the students can have access to the computers immediately and carry that information with them into the lab.”
Keeping up with the latest technology is an essential component to producing quality graduates, Bowers said.
“More and more of the dental offices around the community and across the nation are becoming more computerized,” she said, “and it’s our responsibility to make sure we graduate competent and qualified dental hygienists to work in these offices as they are designed.”
Dr. Erik Risovalto, president of the Northwestern Ohio Dental Society, echoed the need for quality hygienists who are well versed in the latest technology.
“We’re dentists and we’re employers, so we have a vested interest in the education students receive,” he said. “They’re going to come out and treat patients and be employees in our offices, and the better trained they are in the practices that we have today, the better the transition will be for both the students and the employers.”
Ramsey is excited about the advantages future classes of hygienists will have as they enter the workforce.
“Several previous graduates were asked as they had job interviews if they had digital experience, and they had to say no,” he said. “This year’s graduates will be the first to be able to say yes. Our goal here is student success.”