Chatt Tech’s new
dental assisting program aims
to fill workforce need
From left: Chattahoochee Technical College Dental Assisting Program Director Michelle Peets watches as students Paris Brewer and Diana Ferdinand practice on a model mouth.
By Thomas Hartwell
MARIETTA — Chattahoochee Technical
College has added a new degree program in
its healthcare repertoire, as the school aims
to address a shortage of dental assistants in
the U.S. workforce.
The program, which welcomed its first
class in August 2020, had six students
ranging in age from 19 to 62 as of summer
of 2021 and aims to scale to 24 students
by 2025, said Michelle Peet, director of the
college’s dental assisting program.
The student cohort beginning the
program in August 2021 was expected to
have eight students, she said.
Peets said the pandemic presented
challenges to the fledging program’s
launch. But, she added, the community is
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beginning to take note and dental offices
are beginning to reach out to create a
“There just aren’t enough people in the
workforce doing this job, so demand really
created it,” Peets said.
The MDJ visited the dental assisting
program in the Marietta campus’ new
health science programs building. Peets
walked through the lab’s rows of 12 bays,
outfitted just like a dental office, complete
with patient chairs, instruments and
anatomically correct model heads with
mouths and teeth.
Each bay also has storage space, sinks
and a computer so students could practice
charting patient information, office space
management, patient interaction and any
other procedure they’ll need to know when
they enter the workforce. Using cameras at
each station, Peets said she can broadcast
what she’s doing in one bay to all the
students’ computer screens during a lesson.
Chattahoochee Tech was able to secure
top-of-the-line technology for its dental
program labs through federal Coronavirus
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or
CARES Act, grants.
That money helped to buy what Peets
said were invaluable assets like the model
mouths that simulate real oral tissue and
teeth, as well as a piece of equipment
capable of scanning a patient’s teeth to
create easily stored 3D dental records.
Peets said that piece of technology alone
The program also makes use of a “wet
lab,” where students learn to create study