Home > Blog > March 2017 > Dental Hygiene Program Director Melisa McCannel Named 2017 Educator of the Year

Dental Hygiene Program Director Melisa McCannel Named 2017 Educator of the Year

Posted: March 29, 2017 by Elizabeth Baker
Melisa McCannel, Dental Hygiene Program Director at Pima Medical Institute’s Seattle campus, provides hands-on instruction to students in the lab.

Melisa McCannel’s dedication to her students hasn’t gone unnoticed. The dental hygiene program director for Pima Medical Institute’s Seattle campus goes above and beyond to make sure her students understand the curriculum and obtain the clinical skills in order to succeed.

That dedication is why she was recently nominated for and won the 2017 Educator of the Year Award, given by the Washington State Dental Hygienists’ Association. The award honors a full-time dental hygiene faculty member who shows commitment to quality education and their students. 

“Melisa’s passion, drive, commitment and dedication to her students, faculty and the community at large makes her an outstanding educator,” said Pima Medical Institute Seattle Campus Director, Alan Clay. “As a program director, Melisa is focused on student outcomes. She leads by example and has motivated her team to go out of their way to assist their students in meeting their educational and career goals.”

McCannel joined Pima Medical in 2013. Since that time, she’s devoted herself to her students in a way that’s unique, said student Melanie Plata, who nominated McCannel for the award.

“This past semester we had restorative class, and anyone who has ever been to dental hygiene school or dental school knows that the requirements for a class like that are extremely extensive and overwhelming. Melisa made sure to stay back three, four hours extra on top of the three-hour lab initially allotted to ensure all of us would finish the requirements to make sure no one felt as though they were falling behind. There were many nights Melisa would eat her lunch and dinner sitting there with us doing fillings,” Plata wrote in her nomination letter.

Melisa McCannel was just named the 2017 Educator of the Year by the Washington State Dental Hygienists’ Association. Melisa McCannel takes time out of her busy day for a photo. McCannel was just named the 2017 Educator of the Year by the Washington State Dental Hygienists’ Association.
For McCannel, it’s all in a day’s work.

“I enjoy my job very much,” she said. “I’m motivated by my students’ drive to become excellent dental hygienist and dental professionals. I love seeing concepts click, seeing the hand skills develop, the critical thinking taking shape, and the scientific reasoning behind their thorough process. They grow as people and professionals in a very short amount of time. I am very proud to be part of that process.”

As part of their hands-on training, Pima Medical Dental Hygiene students work in the campus’ Community Dental Clinic, where lower-cost dental services are provided for all members of the community in need of dental care. 

“(The students) tackle difficult patients in hygiene clinic but also in restorative clinic. They may be nervous, but they are so proud of themselves when they are done,” McCannel said. “My goal is to ensure my students always understand they can come to me with questions, concerns or for advice.”

Pima Medical’s Dental Hygiene associate degree program is offered in Seattle, Houston and Albuquerque, N.M. It’s takes just under two years to complete and prepares students for an in-demand career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dental hygiene career is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2024. 

“Right now there is currently a high demand for dental hygienists,” McCannel said. “We provide our students with the extra attention they need by spending more time with them while they are learning critical skills and concepts. We set high standards from the very beginning. Our students graduate from here with exceptional professionalism and confidence. Our graduates tell us they were very prepared when they had their first day of work as a dental hygienist. That’s a great accomplishment for my team.”

McCannel was presented with a plaque and $500 to be used for dental hygiene education or classroom equipment. She has been in dentistry for 25 years and is the former president of the Greater Seattle Dental Hygienists Association. 

McCannel has more than 25 years of dentistry experience and is the former president of the Greater Seattle Dental Hygienists’ Association. She earned her bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene from the University of Washington and master of science degree in management and leadership from Western Governor’s University. 

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