WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Dental Technicians (DT) will celebrate their 56th anniversary April 2, marking more than five decades of dental health care assistance to dentists serving the Navy and Marine Corps fleet and family members.
This anniversary not only reflects the dental community's history, but also recognizes significant changes to the enlisted career field's future, with a potential merger between DTs and Hospital Corpsmen (HM) on the horizon.
"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 (SW/AW) Jacqueline DiRosa, director of Medical Department Enlisted Personnel at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). "Our future includes an increase to rapid and ready response by ensuring all enlisted personnel have the same base line of training. We're improving our flexibility in the utilization of all enlisted manpower and career opportunities for our Sailors."
There are nearly 3,000 DTs serving a variety of "chairside" and administrative duties. Some are qualified in dental prosthetics (making and fitting artificial teeth), dental X-ray, clinical laboratory and pharmacy procedures, as well as maintenance and repair of dental equipment.
DTs have seven different sub-specialty C-schools. If a merger occurs, these opportunities would expand to include 40 schools currently offered to HMs. This would increase the DT/HM sub-specialty choices to 47 schools, according to BUMED Dental Technician Career Planner, Master Chief Dental Technician Barbara Moody.
"The Navy will always need Dental Technicians, regardless of what rating they belong to," said Moody. "Nothing will affect the level of care we provide to beneficiaries, because we'll still have the same number of overall enlisted medical personnel. A 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 warfighter and retiree."
The DT/HM merger will be reviewed this year. If approved, the transition will occur over the next three to five years, possibly making this year's Dental Technician anniversary one of its last.
"We are proud of our history. In fact, the Dental Technician rating originally came from the Corpsman rating. So, really, we're just going back to our roots," said Moody. "Overall, we're only enriching Naval Medicine history."
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