The dental hygiene profession is indeed an ever-changing field. For this reason, it is imperative that dental hygiene educators are well-informed of all changes or alterations within the dental hygiene field, as well as remain abreast of new technologies, treatment modalities, and legality changes with regard to dental hygiene licensure and scope of practice. “Dental hygiene educators are preparing the next generation of dental hygienists to enter a health care environment that is radically different from just a few years ago” (Steinbach, 2015, p. 27). To ensure upcoming dental hygienists’ success in private or public clinical practice, education and course curriculum should actively evolve as the field evolves.
I would say that the subject that stands out to me the most, after reading the various journal articles provided, is the importance of teaching students about the collaborative healthcare model, which can improve access to care issues among underserved communities. “Alliances and advocacy are two of the three goals your board of trustees has identified to achieve our vision of a transformed profession,” Swanson Jaecks stated, “A profession in which dental hygienists are integrated into the health care delivery system as essential primary care providers to expand access to oral health care” (2014, p. 6). Additionally, increasing communication between dental hygienists and other health care providers can improve patients’ overall quality of care. Swanson Jaecks highlighted the following alliance goals: “…increase strategic partnerships with other provider organizations and increase organized dental hygiene involvement in the development of new workforce models” (2014, p. 6). It is crucial for dental hygienists to be more integrated in the collaborative health care team, and proper education and practice of the concept during dental hygiene education serves as a necessary foundation.
Furthermore, dental hygiene students must learn the importance of the value of advocacy. This practice could help to increase the number of patients served in surrounding communities. There is certainly an access to care crisis within the dental field. “While demand for oral health care services continues to grow, changes in the availability of those who provide those services will put a greater demand on the need for dental hygienists — and for dental hygienists to be able to practice to the fullest extent of their scope in order to adequately meet the oral health needs of the public” (ADHA, 2015, p. 8). This is a vital issue that dental hygiene students must be educated on, and a sense of urgency should be initiated. One of the many duties and responsibilities of the dental hygienist is to serve as an advocate. Teaching dental hygiene students about the need for community efforts, as well as introducing them to access to care issues are invaluable components of the education process.
As a future potential dental hygiene educator, I most certainly support the transformation of the dental hygiene profession. A study regarding dental hygiene education was conducted in 2011. The researchers found that the profession is always evolving, and the knowledge of new technologies and educational techniques is necessary for dental hygiene educators. “Not only has dental hygiene been experiencing an issue with aging of current faculty, but there has been difficulty finding new faculty with the desired skills and credentials to fill open positions” (Coplen, Klausner, & Taichman, 2011, p. 58). It is important to note that much of dental hygiene education has been transferred to online/virtual learning, and new dental hygiene technologies are constantly being introduced. Therefore, it is important for future potential faculty members to have substantial knowledge and skill related to updated practices in order to adequately educate dental hygiene students for private practice. “This study found that more than 90% of all dental hygiene faculty believe that clinical skills, educational skills and technological skills are important qualifications for future faculty” (Coplen, Klausner, & Taichman, 2011, p. 64). I believe that dental hygiene educators must continually develop as hygienists, as well as advance their curricula, in accordance with the various developments in the field. This is truly the only way to ensure that dental hygiene students will be well-prepared for practice in the field.
American Dental Hygienists’ Association. (2015). Transforming dental hygiene education and the profession for the 21st century, 2-27. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Default.DESKTOP-4QTSG3J/Downloads/FINALwhitepaperWithUpdatedLinks-2.pdf.
Coplen, A.E., Klausner, C.P., & Taichman, L.S. (2011). Status of current dental hygiene faculty and perceptions of important qualifications for future faculty. The Journal of Dental Hygiene, 85(1), 57-66. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Default.DESKTOP-4QTSG3J/Downloads/DH%20educators%20Faculty%20perception%20.pdf.
Steinbach, P. (2015). Transforming education. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, 12(10), 26-27. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Default.DESKTOP-4QTSG3J/Downloads/The%20dental%20hygiene%20profession_Dimensions_Steinbach_2015.pdf.
Swanson Jaecks, K. (2014). Alliances and advocacy. Access, p. 6. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Default.DESKTOP-4QTSG3J/Downloads/education%20access%20(1).pdf.