Roane State students learn how laws impact practice of dental hygiene

Members of the graduating class from Roane State’s dental hygiene program are pictured with lawmakers during a recent legislative breakfast. From left: Melinda Gill, program director; State Reps. Bob Ramsey and Justin Lafferty, students Courtney Adkins, Nichole Bailey and Emily Kirkland; State Sen. Richard Briggs, students Nicole Charitat, Maria Campos Nuci, Marianne Hitchcox, Sarai Gassler, Alisa O’Brien, Nickie Fraker, MaKenzie Bowers, and Clinic Coordinator Kellye Wilson.

UPPER CUMBERLAND – Shortly before they graduated, Roane State’s dental hygiene class of 2022 attended a meeting to learn how the legislative process can affect their chosen professions.

The students attended the Legislative Breakfast with lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, state Reps. Justin Lafferty and Bob Ramsey, and state Sen. Richard Briggs. Dr. Briggs is a surgeon and Dr. Ramsey is a dentist. All the lawmakers are Republicans and represent areas of East Tennessee.

Melinda Gill, director of the community college’s Dental Hygiene program, said lawmakers discussed an approved legislative amendment that allows live, interactive webinars to be considered in-person continuing education. 

“This became an issue during the initial COVID year when there were no live continuing education hours being offered,” Gill explained.

“We also discussed why a bill was withdrawn for consideration due to the language within it not being clear on what TNDHA (Tennessee Dental Hygienists’ Association) intended,” she said.

“New language is being discussed so that this bill can be presented again in the next legislative calendar year.”

The event “was a wonderful opportunity for the students to see the importance of being an advocate for the practice of dental hygiene and the services that dental hygienists are allowed to provide,” Gill said.

For information on Roane State’s dental hygiene program, visit

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