LCCC dental hygiene students gain practical experience and have seen more than 10,000 patients since 1999

When retired Avon resident Bill Pozega is due for a dental cleaning, he heads to the Lorain County Community College Dental Clinic, staffed by students in the college’s dental hygiene program.

He’s been going to the clinic for more than 10 years and says the students provide the best cleanings he’s ever gotten.

“It’s a training clinic, so you need to have a little patience, but I would recommend it to anybody,” he says.

The clinic is headed by Dr. Ihor Suszko, who has brought a lot of smiles to Lorain County over the past 35 years through his work as a practicing dentist. Now, he’s sharing his wisdom and experience with the next generation of dental hygienists as director of LCCC’s dental hygiene program.

“It’s wonderful to still be in the industry, but also work at the other end of the spectrum in this educational setting where we train and develop these very talented dental hygienists,” Suszko says. “It’s a competitive program — only 15 students are selected each year — so the caliber of students in the program is high.”

One of those students was Holli Berki, who graduated in May 2018 and is working at Stine Dental, a family practice in Norwalk. After finishing high school in 2006, she worked in restaurants and retail, but found the hours difficult. Her husband, who took classes through LCCC’s University Partnership program, recommended she talk to an academic counselor to explore her interests. That’s how she found the dental hygiene program.

“It was a perfect fit for what I wanted,” Berki says. “It was helping people, and it was something I could be passionate about.”

She says the program is excellent and the staff supportive.

“They do everything in their power to get us ready to work in the field,” says Berki. “I learned everything I needed to enter the field right away after graduation.”

“Most of our students find employment almost immediately after graduation. It’s a good field to get into, with a high rate of employment both locally and regionally.”
Dr. Ihor Suszko, director of LCCC’s dental hygiene program

That sense of preparedness comes from the real-life experience Berki and other students gain through the clinic. Students have seen more than 10,000 patients from the community since it opened in 1999.

Through strict protocol and treatment regiments, students begin treating patients like Pozega, allowing them to apply what they’ve learned before they graduate.

And once they do graduate, jobs are plentiful, says Suszko.

“Most of our students find employment almost immediately after graduation,” says Suszko. “It’s a good field to get into, with a high rate of employment both locally and regionally.”