Grant Funds Four New, State-of-the Art Patient Bays for NTC’s Dental Assisting Program

Northwest Technical College’s dental assisting program has installed new, state-of-the-art training stations in its on-campus lab through a grant-funded partnership with Bemidji’s Northern Dental Access Center.

A $91,700 Minnesota Department of Health Clinical Dental Education Innovations grant provided funding for the training stations and will support an expansion at Northern Dental Access Center’s Bemidji facility.

The annual grant program, created through state statute, awards grants to qualifying institutions and dental training sites for projects that increase access to dental services for underserved populations and promote innovative clinical training for dental professionals. Proposals are evaluated by a review committee which includes dental professionals and experts on both the dental workforce and health policy issues.

“NTC continues to carefully allocate resources to assure each program has state-of-the-art tools to prepare our future workforce,” Darrin Strosahl, NTC’s vice president for academic affairs, said. “This partnership demonstrates the importance placed on the need for highly trained dental health professionals. “

Julie Dokken, director of NTC’s dental assisting program, says that limited resources have led the program to replace aging equipment slowly and cautiously. This funding has allowed the program to completely and simultaneously refurbish four training bays with new chairs and delivery equipment.

“There are currently more job openings for dental assistants than there are graduates. Given this workforce shortage, our work to educate dental assistants is more important than ever,” she said. “We’re pleased to provide our students with experiences on the equipment they can expect in their workplace.”

Northern Dental Access Center, which will use its portion of the grant funding to support construction costs of new dental treatment bays, provides dental care to low-income people in northwest Minnesota. While it regularly partners with a number of institutions to promote workforce growth in oral health professions, it has enjoyed a special relationship with NTC.

“NTC is our primary pipeline for dental assistants,” Jeanne Edevold Larson, the center’s executive director, said. “We’ve hired dozens of their graduates over the years. It’s an important partnership that helps us provide care to people most in need.”


Northwest Technical College, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, is an open, inviting technological learning organization. For more than 40 years, the college has valued life-long learning and the worth and dignity of all people. The college serves 900 students with a high-quality education, an open-enrollment policy and affordable tuition. NTC offers nearly 60 degree, diploma and certificate programs in areas such as business, health, human and protective services and environmental and industrial technology. Classes are offered on the Bemidji campus, online, or as a combination of both. NTC is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities.