A team of Virginia Western Community College dental hygiene students recently won the second annual statewide “It’s Hygienic” knowledge competition at the VCU School of Dentistry in Richmond. The team of Chelsea Broce, Kaylee Lovelace and Katharyn Seay beat out a tough field on Feb. 17 that included eight teams of three to five students from associate’s and bachelor’s degree dental hygiene programs.

The aim of “It’s Hygienic,” a corporate sponsored event hosted by Board Games, LLC, is to allow dental hygiene students who dedicated the last two to four years preparing for the dental hygiene profession the opportunity and inspiration to show off their knowledge as they prepare for their board exam.  As the founders of this now national event, who are also Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) state on their website, “There is nothing better than having an auditorium full of students, faculty and community RDHs helping to shape tomorrow professionals.”

The student teams competed in a panel, question-answer style format consisting of five rounds of nearly 400 questions including core sciences, dental hygiene process of care, visual identification, community health, ethics, research, and case studies.

The Virginia Western team, named “The Tooth Sleuths,” began their day at 5:30 a.m. with a drive to Richmond, quizzing one another along the way in final preparation. The resulting victory gave them the knowledge that their educational experience is paying off.  “It was a fun and reassuring experience,” Lovelace said.

In addition to their education, the Virginia Western students credit their ability to work well together as a team and that each of them brought a different area of strength to the competition. “It’s exciting to know that I’ve been in school for two years and know more, or at least just as much, as those who went to school for four years,” Broce said.

Seay, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, added that while her undergraduate degree was challenging, she feels the dental hygiene program is harder because of all there is to do in terms of material, patient care and work with the community.

The four semi-finalists in the “It’s Hygienic” competition were from Virginia’s Community Colleges. Virginia Western’s Roanoke team topped the second-place team, which was comprised of students from the extended Virginia Western dental hygiene joint venture with Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown. Northern Virginia Community College and Thomas Nelson Community College tied for third place.

Next week, Virginia Western dental hygiene students will begin sitting for their national board exams. Over the past five years, students from Virginia Western have had a first-time pass rate between 96-100 percent. Broce, Lovelace and Seay say they feel prepared and confident going into the exam.

For more information about Virginia Western’s dental hygiene program, please visit www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/health/dental.