Workforce Update

Old Dominion University Approved by CODA to increase dental hygiene class size to 48

Jun 25, 2024

The Old Dominion University dental hygiene program, the largest in Virginia, has been approved by CODA to increase its class size from 42 to 48 cohorts in response to increased demand for graduates. 

Virginia Commonwealth University’s dental hygiene program recently sought and received approval from CODA to increase its dental hygiene class size from 16 to 20. Director of VCU’s Dental Hygiene Program Marion Manski spoke with NBC12 earlier this year about the strong student and employer demand for their program, with 130-140 students applying annually. 

VCCS Chancellor David Dore has similarly acknowledged the need to address the shortage of dental hygienists in Virginia, with plans to expand the Northern Virginia Community College Medical Education Campus, which will allow for tripling the annual number of healthcare graduates and include expanding the in-demand dental hygiene and dental assisting programs. The Chancellor also held up Virginia Western and Germanna Community Colleges as centers of excellence in dental hygiene and expanded functions of dental assisting education, which can serve as a model for other programs in meeting the overwhelming student and employer demand. 

The Virginia Dental Workforce Council presented findings to the VDA House of Delegates in January that showed we had 135 graduates from in-state dental hygiene programs in 2023, down from a peak of 181 in 2011. The share of newly licensed hygienists coming from out-of-state programs has also been increasing – 41% in the past five years compared to 33% overall, according to licensure survey data from the Virginia Healthcare Workforce Data Center. 

Virginia is one of nine states so far to pass legislation enabling the dental and dental hygienist compact, which supports license portability. The first meeting of the compact commission is expected to take place later this summer. 

The VDA has been continuing to work with partners in the state to increase public awareness of the crisis and to implement the recommendations made by the council and the VDA House of Delegates in January.

Recent workforce news:

  • WTOP: Virginia dentists grappling with a shortage of hygienists and what that means for patients -May 27, 2024
  • CBS6 Richmond: Why it might be difficult to schedule a dentist appointment in Virginia right now -May 2, 2024
  • WRVA Richmond: VDA CEO Ryan Dunn Discusses Dental Hygienist Workforce Shortage with John Reid -April 23, 2024
  • WNIS Norfolk: VDA CEO Ryan Dunn Discusses Need for Dental Hygienists on the Peninsula with Tony Macrini -May 17, 2024