Hometown Students Respond with Superlative 100-Percent Pass Rate

Donna Cleere easily recalls her own graduation from the Dental Hygiene Program at Amarillo College and how that milestone event was necessarily followed by a pair of examinations required for licensure—the national written boards, and the regional clinical competency exam.

For the latter, Cleere, who is now the director of AC’s Dental Hygiene Program, had to procure a qualified patient—one whose oral health was adequately subpar—and transport said patient at her own expense to the Baylor School of Dentistry, where the test was being administered.

For the patient, it was an all-expense-paid, long-distance dental-care adventure; for Cleere it was a major personal expense with a virtual stranger, while her all-important licensure hung in the balance.

That’s pretty much been the norm ever since for AC students of dental hygiene, who have typically supplied their own orally needy patients at Texas sites where the regional clinical exam happens to be administered—Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and just recently Wichita Falls.

Not anymore, though. For the first time in its history, Amarillo College, June 3-5, served as an official site for the administration of the regional Board of Dental Hygiene Clinical Examination.

Better yet, the AC students responded—all 27 of them—in superlative fashion by successfully passing the exam. Since they previously and unanimously passed the written boards, all are now officially sanctioned and ready to begin careers as dental hygienists.

“I’m so proud of our students; eight of them made 100 percent on the clinical exam, and one scored 99 percent and another 98 percent,” Cleere said. “It’s just awesome.”

Also worthy of note is the fact that the examiners were impressed enough by the new facilities at Jones Hall, and by AC’s administrative efforts, that they immediately asked AC to serve as a test site again next year.

“It could not have gone any smoother,” Cleere said. “The examiners were wowed by our new facilities.

“This was huge for our students, an extremely positive experience. We were thrilled when the chief examiner asked if AC would be willing to be a testing center next year. Of course we will!”

The six examiners who administered the tests—to the 27 AC students and 3 products of other schools of dental hygiene—were representatives of Central Regional Dental Testing Services (CRDTS), a regionally authorized testing service which administers clinical competency examinations in dentistry and dental hygiene on behalf of its members and participating states.

This was CRDTS’s first time to conduct a regional licensure examination in Texas (the Western Regional Testing Agency has long administered the bulk of licensure exams in Texas). It obviously will not be the last.

“Being an official test site is so much less costly for our students, and there is a lot less stress because they are familiar with the facility,” Cleere said. “I anticipate AC being a test center for this examination for a long time.”

CRDTS called Cleere in January to find out if AC would like to host the licensure exams. With much to do in preparation, and not much time, she nevertheless accepted the challenge.

Cleere credits CRDTS’s selection of AC as its first Texas test site to the new dental facility at Jones Hall, which opened in fall of 2010 on the West Campus. The examiners were familiar with the floor plan before they saw it in person, she said.

She credits CRDTS’s interest in using AC for such testing in the future with her “exceptional colleagues who worked tirelessly in advance and over the weekend to ensure our success.

“When our faculty left AC after the testing had been completed, we all felt so much pride and a sense of accomplishment because the real winners were our students,” Cleere said. “They were so thankful and appreciative to be able to test on their home turf.’

“It was an amazing three days.”

The Dental Hygiene Program at Amarillo College receives between 80 and 100 applications but accepts no more than 28 new students into the program each year.

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