New Dental Assisting Program at ACTC | ACTC

New Dental Assisting Program at ACTC

Published on Apr 4, 2017

A new dental assisting program will begin this fall at Ashland Community and Technical College, and May 5 is the application deadline. 

“This new program is a plus for students as well as dentists,” said Barbara Hughes-Nelson, program coordinator.  “Dentists have requested this program for years and have shown great support. There is a great need for dental assistants in the Tri-State.”

Dr. Gregory Craft, a dentist at Tri-State Periodontics in Ashland, has an advisory role in the new program.

“I had asked about the possibility of having a dental assisting program at ACTC about five years ago,” Craft said. “At that time, there was a shortage of dental assistants in the area and dentists were always looking for good, qualified assistants. Offering this program at ACTC will help to fill this void and create a pool of qualified assistants to hire from.”

According to “Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2024,” dental assisting is listed in the top 20 Kentucky occupations with the most annual job openings and one of the 20 fastest growing Kentucky occupations requiring a postsecondary non-degree award. In 2015, the average hourly wage was $16.37.

“Almost every facet of dentistry is practiced in Ashland or within a very short distance from Ashland,” Craft said. “A modern day general or specialty dental practice cannot operate, at least not efficiently or profitably, without well-trained dental assistants.”

ACTC’s dental assisting program will prepare students to provide services such as assisting the dentist with operative and surgical procedures, manipulation of dental materials, taking radiographs, providing oral health instructions and performing office management tasks.

Upon completion of the 12-month program, students will be awarded a Diploma in Dental Assisting. Graduates will also be certified in radiation health and safety, coronal polishing and expanded duties (lab competency).

 “In the dental profession today, we are experiencing many equipment and technological advancements. We want to make sure our students become proficient in using those technologies in order to excel in their careers,” Nelson said.

Nelson received her associate degree in dental hygiene from the West Virginia Institute of Technology and earned her Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree from West Virginia State University.  She has 17 years of experience in the dental profession and is an experienced instructor.

“ACTC‘s integrated dental assisting program will give students confidence in their ability to walk out of a classroom and into a profession that allows them to provide a stable income for themselves and their families,” she said. “The program allows students to build a foundation for the future should they decide to continue with their education in the dental field.”

This is a selective admissions program, and prospective students will need to submit both an ACTC application and a dental assisting program application. Admission requirements include COMPASS/ACT scores, GPA, prerequisite courses and CPR certification. Other requirements are listed online, along with applications, at under Academics, Programs of Study.

For more information, contact Nelson at 606-326-2095, email: or Roxanne Neal, Division Assistant/Health Science at 606-326-2086, email: