LSUA to Educate Dental Hygienists for Central Louisiana
March 07, 2023
Building a Pipeline for Dental Care
Every parish in central Louisiana is designated as a dental health professional shortage area by the Louisiana Department of Health. To address this need and with $520K in state support, LSU is now expanding the LSU Health New Orleans dental hygiene program to LSU Alexandria.
“Rather than reinventing the wheel, we take advantage of a university that’s statewide, where different campuses can work together to meet critical needs,” said Haywood Joiner, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at LSUA. “We’re doing it with LSU Eunice in extending their surgical technology program to us, and we’re doing it with LSU Health New Orleans for dental hygiene. Our hope, of course, is that students will remain and work in this area after they graduate.”
One of the LSUA students aiming to do exactly that is Sara Larson from Cheneyville, 25 miles south of Alexandria. She just completed her prerequisite courses and hopes to be accepted into the dental hygiene program at LSUA this fall to eventually work with a dentist in the area.
“Probably in Rapides Parish, or in St. Landry or Evangeline,” Larson said. “I want to be near my family, and I want to help people keep their teeth. Good oral health can save people a lot of pain, hassle and cost.”
Three out of every four dental health professionals working in Louisiana today got their degree from the LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. This includes both dentists and dental hygienists.
“After opening my practice two years ago, I was finally able to hire two hygienists this past summer, but now one is retiring and the other is cutting back her work, so I can’t tell you how excited everyone is here about the new LSUA dental hygiene program. It’s going to bring much needed service to our community.”
John Moylan, dentist and president of the Central Louisiana Dental Association