dental_hygienistThe American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) has released a white paper, titled “Transforming Dental Hygiene Education and the Profession for the 21st Century.” The white paper, which is being distributed with the support of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc, details how the outcomes from the September 2013 “Transforming Dental Hygiene Education, Proud Past, Unlimited Future” symposium helped shape the vision for the future of the dental hygiene profession—and how that vision is being brought to fruition through changes taking place both in the educational system, and in the larger framework of the overall healthcare system.

“This white paper highlights the vast transformation taking place in oral health and provides evidence that changes are needed to improve health outcomes for the public,” said ADHA President Jill Rethman, RDH, BA. “Today’s dental hygiene graduates must be prepared to collaborate in an increasingly interprofessional healthcare environment. This document illustrates the need for not only a transformed dental hygiene curriculum, but a transformed oral health care system that puts the patient first and optimizes the preventive and therapeutic services dental hygienists can provide.”

According to a press release from the ADHA, issues related to the changes needed in dental hygiene education are explored throughout the white paper, and those issues highlight the importance of changing dental hygiene education and transforming the way graduates are prepared for the future. This paper discusses how by improving the curricula and supplying dental hygiene students with a broad-based, well-rounded education that challenges them to think critically, future dental hygienists will be better equipped to serve the public’s overall health and wellness needs.

The public’s oral healthcare needs are becoming more diverse and more complex, according to the ADHA, and the scientific evidence supporting the role of oral healthcare services in achieving and maintaining oral and overall health continues to evolve. The ADHA argues this puts dental hygiene educators on the front line, and the next generation of dental hygienists must be prepared to enter a healthcare environment that is radically different from just a few years ago.

According to ADHA Chief Executive Officer Ann Battrell, MSDH, “By developing and instituting a new educational curriculum, grounded in science and with an interprofessional focus on contemporary delivery strategies, we can go a long way to improving access to care for the public and advancing the dental hygiene profession.”

The ADHA says the document is intended to facilitate dialogue among a variety of interested stakeholder groups and continue to look for ways to advance the dental hygiene curriculum for the benefit of the public.

The white paper is available with the ADHA’s Access magazine. To receive a digital copy of the paper, contact ADHA director of communications John Iwanski at [email protected] or by calling (312) 440-8900.