20 Dec Airo AV Suggest: Westervelt dental grads won’t need retraining as college
Dental assistant graduates from a London-based career college won’t have to retrain after an administrative snafu left their certification status in limbo, Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities says.
Westervelt College’s dental assistant program in London is working to fix an accreditation oversight that left recent graduates unsure whether they were certified to provide dental X-rays to patients in Ontario.
“The ministry has been in contact with Westervelt College concerning their dental assistant program and has been briefed on the situation,” Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities spokesperson Tania Blazina said in an email.
“The school has been working to correct the situation with their application and anticipates approval of the London location shortly.”
Dental assistants are health care workers trained to help dentists and dental hygienists with patient care and clinic operations. Dental assistants also can take and process dental X-rays.
Though the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities oversees Ontario’s private career colleges, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has an approval process for college dental assistant and radiography programs to ensure they live up to stringent standards. Colleges must re-apply for approval if their program has changed, the school moves or changes its name, a ministry spokesperson said in an email.
Ontario career college Medix announced its acquisition of Westervelt in 2017. The merged institution took the Westervelt name. The process of changing the name forced the school to re-apply to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to approve its dental assistant program, Westervelt College London campus director Gerry Slattery said.
“There’s an administrative issue with the radiology area of the dental program. It’s just because of the change of address, the change of name from Medix to Westervelt College. We’re just waiting for approval,” Slattery said.
“The students might be a bit confused. . . . We’ve been pushing to get the thumbs up. It’s a matter of just paperwork really.”
Westervelt offers the dental assisting program in Brantford, Kitchener and London. The issue only affected dental assistant graduates from Westervelt’s London campus, the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities said in a statement.
The Ontario Dental Assistants’ Association, the professional association that certifies dental assistants across the province, notified affected members earlier this month about the possible threat to their certification when they learned Westervelt was without the necessary ministry approvals.
The news sent some recent graduates scrambling and unsure when the issue was going to be remedied, one former Westervelt student told The Free Press.
“I have been (temporarily) cut back to basic dental assisting duties. . . . I personally have lost hours at work since I can’t work alone in case a patient needs X-rays,” she said a text message exchange.
“We’re all worried.”
The Ontario Dental Assistants’ Association is trying to support members affected by the administrative issue.
“Our priority is the certification standards,” said executive director Carolyn Hibbs. “We’re aware of the situation. We’ve been communicating with the Ministry of Health and Westervelt College to ensure the standards are met.”