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Downtown CTE to be state of art

Tour gives peek at new dental programs

Mark Hildahl describes the features of the dental operatories that will be learning spaces for future dental assisting and hygiene students at the Dakota College Downtown location.

Remodeling is progressing and much equipment is in place as Minot’s new downtown career and technical center gets ready for its first class of dental assisting students this fall.

On Friday, representatives of Dakota College at Bottineau and Dr. Mark Hildahl of the center’s dental advisory board provided a tour to members of partner entities that include Minot State University, the City of Minot and the Minot Area Chamber EDC.

The center, a former Trinity Health building along Burdick Expressway, will be known as Dakota College Downtown. It is the third site in Minot for DCB, which also has a site at MSU and a nursing site on the Trinity-St. Joseph’s campus.

The first floor of Dakota College Downtown is largely a hands-on instructional area, while the second floor includes classrooms, offices, student center, snack area and a conference room with a small library.

Minot Program Director Maggie Backen with DCB said there may be community uses for the classrooms, such as CPR certification training, insurance and real estate agent training and other community education.

Mark Hildahl guides a tour Friday through the dental simulation laboratory in the new career and technology center being developed in downtown Minot. At left are Minot City Council members Lisa Olson and Mark Jantzer.

The first floor has 12 dental stations, called operatories, for use in both the dental assisting and hygiene programs that will be offered at the center. Students will get hands-on dental training with the operatories.

“They will be initially working on one another. Eventually, some public will be in here, getting dental services,” Hildahl said.

The center’s modern equipment includes state-of-the-art digital cameras and X-ray capabilities.

“Everything is digital now,” Hildahl said. “It’s a lot faster, safer, a very minimal amount of radiation. The old way of wrapping you in lead aprons and people running out of the room to take the X-rays and that kind of stuff is pretty well gone now. With the digital X-rays, the amount of radiation that is used is just minute.”

The dental assisting program is a 10-month program that will start in September. The program finishes with an eight-week experience in community dental offices.

Minot Program Director Maggie Backen with Dakota College at Bottineau stands in the reception area of the downtown career and technical center Friday, where construction is continuing toward a fall opening.

The dental hygiene program involves two years of coursework through the center, with additional coursework required to get into the program. The program will start at the Dakota College Downtown center in the fall of 2025, but applications already are being accepted and pre-requisite courses offered.

When at full capacity, Dakota College Downtown will have 20 hygiene and 12 dental assisting students. Hildahl explained the center is ramping up with assistant courses in its first year, adding a class of 10 hygiene students in each of the two following years.

The expectation is to have one full-time and one part-time instructor in dental assisting and two full-time and one part-time in dental hygiene.

DCB went through an intense process to gain accreditation for the programs. College representatives reported the community support and quality of the equipment helped in that process. With accreditation, DCB can market the program to prospective students and educate western North Dakota dentists on the workforce opportunities.

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