Kennedy-King College is a community college in Chicago that is part of the city's public colleges system. The college offers numerous career advancement opportunities, including its Associate of Applied Science degree. Within this program, students can elect to complete a program in dental hygiene that trains them for careers as dental hygienists.
Before a student can begin her course of study towards the A.A.S. in dental hygiene, she must first complete certain prerequisite courses. Because not all Kennedy-King students arrive on campus with these prerequisites, the school offers the courses to students who are not prepared. The prerequisite coursework is extensive, and would take more than a semester to complete. Included in the sequence are three classes in biology, one in chemistry, and a final course in sociology. Students who have taken this work previously can apply their credits towards the prerequisites.
General Education Requirements
To complete the Associate of Applied Science degree at Kennedy-King College, all students must complete the general education requirements. Because the dental hygiene program at Kennedy-King is so rigorous, its general education requirements are integrated right into the dental curriculum to make their completion possible. The requirement includes courses like general education math, a course in English composition, and one in psychology.
The entire dental hygiene curriculum takes six semester to complete, done within a two-year period because students take classes during the summer. Each semester builds on knowledge learned in the previous one. For example, in their first semester, students take basic concept courses like oral microbiology and concepts of preventative therapy. In the next semester, students use these concepts in their principles of dental hygiene lab and lecture courses. They also take knowledge courses like head and neck anatomy, and a second round of concepts of preventative therapy. All of this first and second semester learning is used in the summer clinic course, where students put their first-year knowledge to practice on real patients.
Capstone Experiences and Exam
At the end of their two-year period, the college wants students to utilize the knowledge they built over their six semesters of courses. To do this, students must enroll in the Senior Seminar course, which primarily focuses on preparing students for the Dental Hygiene Board examination. Passing this exam is required to practice as a dental hygienist in the state of Illinois.
Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan, Textbooks.com, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.