Dental Techs to merge with Hospital Corpsmen

16 Apr 2004 | Pfc. Matthew K. Hacker

“As we celebrate this year’s dental technician birthday, we look toward a changing Naval Medicine force, ready to meet the needs of our Navy,” said Force Master Chief Jacqueline DiRosa, director of the medical department enlisted personnel at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, D.C.

A proposed merger between dental technicians and hospital corpsmen is slated to undertake review later this year, and if approved the transition will happen over the next three to five years.

Hospital corpsmen were the first sailors to be trained as dental technicians. Their schooling was held at the U.S. Naval Dental School, which opened Feb. 3, 1923, as the Dental Department of the U.S. Naval Medical School in Washington, D.C.

The school’s two main objectives were the postgraduate instruction of officers of the dental corps of the Navy and to train hospital corpsmen to serve as dental assistants.

Students who attend this school have many opportunities to excel in their job field in several areas.

Dental technicians have seven different sub-specialty schools for possible attendance, but after the merger, these opportunities will multiply.

Including, 40 schools available to the hospital corpsmen. It will increase the dental technician and hospital corpsmen sub-specialty school choices.

“The Navy will always need dental technicians, only now the job will be a sub-specialty instead of a rating all of its own,” said Master Chief Barbara Moody, dental technician career planner at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. “The change won’t affect the level of care we provide to beneficiaries, because we’ll still have the same number of overall enlisted medical personnel. However, the merger is in line with Force Health Protection because it will help us increase the number of sailors versatile enough to serve anywhere the medical and dental needs of both the war fighter and the retiree.”

The proposed changes may make this year’s dental technician ball one of the last in history, which will highlight more than 50 years of dental health care assistance for servicemembers and their families.

“The dental corps’ role in Naval dentistry and Naval medicine is vital,” said Chief of the Dental Corps Capt. C. I. Turner

In 1942, the newly recognized National Naval Medical Center and the Naval Dental School were established in Bethesda, Md. The Dental Technician rating was established by the Secretary of the Navy, in December of 1947, and became a rating April 2, 1948.

On April 27, 1948, the Naval Dental School was moved from Bethesda to San Diego and provided 16 weeks of basic courses for general dentistry assisting.

The Naval Dental School was redesignated the Naval Graduate Dental School in 1971 and then again as the National Naval Dental Center in 1975. In 1983, the Naval Dental Clinic in Bethesda was established with the Naval Dental School as a component facility.

In 1999, the Naval Dental School was renamed as the Naval Postgraduate Dental School.