Rio Salado, Midwestern University Partner to Open Doors for Dental Hygiene Students


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Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Rio Salado, Midwestern University Partner to Open Doors for Dental Hygiene Students

[Tempe, Ariz. Sept. 21] – Rio Salado College is proud to announce a partnership with Midwestern University aimed at creating more opportunities for dental hygiene students. The collaboration, which officially began on September 5, promises to be a long-term endeavor that will significantly impact the education and careers of aspiring dental hygienists.

Monica Williamson Nenad, Faculty Chair of Dental Programs at Rio Salado College, expressed her excitement about the partnership, saying, "Everyone is so happy with this relationship. They've been wonderful partners to work with, and we’re really looking forward to making this a long-term partnership."

The partnership addresses a critical need identified at the Midwestern University Dental Institute, which serves approximately 15,000 patients each year. Rio Salado dental hygiene students will complete required rotations at the clinic, providing additional personnel to meet the growing dental needs of the community. 

“We are very excited to partner with Rio Salado College,” says Sheri Brownstein, D.M.D., Dean, College of Dental Medicine-Arizona. “The Rio Salado faculty, staff, and administration have made this partnership seamless, and we are happy to see their students on our campus. During their training, the Rio Salado students will help care for our growing patient base in the Dental Institute.”

The inaugural cohort of ten Rio Salado dental hygiene students began their clinical experience at Midwestern University this month. This partnership effectively increased the newest Rio Salado cohort size by a third, allowing ten more students the opportunity to kickstart their dental hygiene education. Furthermore, it promises to alleviate the two-year waitlist currently experienced by Maricopa Community Colleges for their dental hygiene programs, which is shared with Rio Salado.

Rio Salado College students have access to Midwestern University's state-of-the-art facilities, including the simulation laboratory, radiography laboratory, and patient treatment units at the Dental Institute. Students will take their courses’ web sessions alongside their classmates on the Rio Salado Campus. A Rio Salado dental education professional will supervise the sessions on the Midwestern University campus.

Key highlights of the partnership include:

  • Clinical experience for Rio Salado College students at Midwestern University facilities.
  • Access to advanced dental equipment and resources.
  • Supervision by experienced dental professionals.
  • Enhanced learning opportunities for Rio Salado students.

This new cohort will follow Rio’s accelerated program and graduate with their Tempe-based classmates in December 2024.

Applications for participation in the program are accepted on an ongoing basis, with each cohort commencing in the fall. 

“This partnership signifies a significant step forward in addressing the growing demand for dental hygienists and enhancing the educational experience of Rio Salado College students,” Nenad said. “It also marks Rio Salado College's expansion to the west side, further extending its presence in the region.”

For more information about this partnership and Rio Salado College's dental hygiene program, please visit

About Rio Salado College:

Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and one of the largest online public community colleges in the nation, serving more than 35,000 students annually with more than 18,000 online in 50 states. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Rio Salado College offers nearly 600 online classes, 135+ degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollmentmilitary and incarcerated students, and serves as the largest provider of adult education in Arizona.

About Midwestern University:

Midwestern University is a private, not-for-profit graduate and postgraduate educational institution specializing in the health sciences with 12 colleges located on two campuses. The Illinois campus, located on a 105-acre site in Downers Grove, is home to nearly 3,000 students and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove; the College of Health Sciences, Downers Grove; the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois; the Chicago College of Optometry; and the College of Graduate Studies, Downers Grove.  The Arizona campus, located on a 156-acre site in Glendale, is home to over 3,900 students and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Glendale; the College of Health Sciences, Glendale; the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona; the Arizona College of Optometry; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Graduate Studies, Glendale; and the Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit or call 623/572-3215.

Press Contact:

Michelle Reese, Rio Salado College, Communications Manager: (480) 628-1301
Tony Johns, Midwestern University, Senior Writer: (623) 572-379


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