The Dental Hygiene Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) a national Commission that is responsible for the professional accreditation of dental schools, dental hygiene programs, and other programs related to dentistry. Accreditation is a complex process that helps ensure the quality of education provided by the program. Graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is a requirement for licensure in most states. For further information about the process or standards for accredited dental hygiene programs, please see the CODA website at: www.ada.org/coda.
Dental Hygiene Program Mission Statement
The Oregon Institute of Technology Dental Hygiene Program provides a humanistic learning environment that fosters student and graduate success through respect and professionalism, and by encouraging innovation and critical thinking. Its mission is to prepare students to become healthcare professionals who serve diverse populations in multiple roles including leadership, clinical and public health, research, education, and entrepreneurship. Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene graduates gain experience with project-based learning, community service, applied research emphasizing evidence-based practices; and are empowered to become life-long learners.
Dental hygienists are college educated, licensed to practice dental hygiene according to state statutes, and adhere to a Code of Ethics and a standard of practice established by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. The Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene faculty believe that dental hygienists begin their professional careers as students. It is their desire that each student achieve the highest level of knowledge, skill, and professionalism for entry into dental hygiene practice. Faculty promote the public health and professional roles of dental hygienists as clinician, educator, administrator/manager, researcher, and advocate. The program provides students the opportunity for varied learning experiences within each of these roles. Additionally, the faculty support life-long learning and the professional responsibility to remain current with changes in technology and health-related knowledge.
Dental Hygiene Program Student Learning Outcomes
Oregon Tech’s dental hygiene curriculum is based on professional standards developed by experts in the field. Graduates from the dental hygiene program are expected to be competent in:
- Interprofessional Communication: Cultural Awareness: skills in communicating and interacting with members of the health care team to support comprehensive patient care
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: skills that enhance independent action as well as teamwork related to comprehensive care and management of patients
- Professionalism, Ethical Practice: by applying ethical reasoning, legal and regulatory concepts in the provision of care
- Lifelong Learning: for continuous development of knowledge and self-assessment skills necessary for professional practice.
- Provision of Oral Health Care: to provide the dental hygiene process of care for a wide range of patient profiles and all classifications of periodontal diseases.
- Community Health: strategies for assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating community based oral health programs
- Disease Prevention: evaluating factors used to promote patient adherence to disease prevention and/or health maintenance strategies
- Evaluating Research: evaluating current scientific literature to incorporate eveidence-based decisions into dental hygiene practice
Personal and Professional Ethics
Dental hygiene students and graduates are expected to demonstrate high levels of ethical and moral behavior in both their personal and professional lives.
Students entering the program are required to pass a background check which may be reassessed at any time there is a question of drug use, sobriety, or criminal action. Students with a questionable history are encouraged to talk to the Dental Hygiene Program Director to help determine if their history may preclude them from successfully completing the program or not allow them to become licensed after graduation.
Students are encouraged to review the professional code of ethics they will be expected to honor by reviewing the American Dental Hygienists Association Code of Ethics at this website: www.adha.org/bylaws-ethics.
Social Media Use
One component of personal ethics to be aware of is the potential impact of social media activity. It is important to note that an individual’s social media can easily be reviewed by potential employers and others and could potentially have a negative impact on one’s professional future.
This program emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving. There is an expectation that dental hygiene students will continuously improve their critical thinking ability as they progress toward competency. Characteristics of critical thinking include:
- Habitually inquisitive
- Trustful of reason
- Open minded
- Fair-minded in evaluation
- Honest in facing person bias
- Prudent in making judgments
- Willing to reconsider
- Clear about issues
- Orderly in complex matters
- Diligent in seeking relevant information
- Reasonable in the selection of criteria
- Focused on inquiry
Essential Functions of Dental Hygienists
In order to be admitted to or continue in the Dental Hygiene Program a student must possess skills and abilities essential to perform as a dental hygienist. Students are required to perform dental hygiene services for patients in the clinical setting. The department has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the patients including completion of treatment within an acceptable amount of time. With these considerations a dental hygiene candidate/ student must be able to meet the following essential functions:
- Physical skills
Sit or stand; bend and reach while performing clinical procedures. Function in a structured environment for several hours. Demonstrate hand/eye coordination, manual dexterity and tactile sensitivity necessary to manipulate a variety of instruments, materials and equipment. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and assist in emergency situations.
- Sensory Skills
Read charts, records, small print, typed and handwritten notes. See with measurable depth perception and in low-light conditions. Distinguish color variations and discern shades of black and white. Hear and understand verbal directions. Discern sounds related to patient assessment and treatment. Distinguish smells of various drugs, solutions and materials used in healthcare settings. Feel subtle differences in surface textures. Recognize changes in patient status.
- Cognitive Skills
Comprehend, analyze and synthesize complex science and clinical findings. Apply prior learning to new situations. Concentrate on task at hand amidst a variety of environmental distractions. Interpret patient findings, recognize anomalies and make decisions which affect patient care. Use personal computers to complete assignments.
- Communication Skills
Speak and write clearly. Provide patients with clear instructions appropriate for their level of understanding. Write clear and legible chart notes. Organize thoughts and ideas into written essays and research papers. Understand, comprehend, and effectively communicate the English language with peers and patients; both in written and verbal formats at English Proficiency levels expected for healthcare providers.
- Interpersonal Skills
Interact with individuals, small groups, and large audiences. Establish sufficient rapport and maintain appropriate boundaries in order to effectively relate to patients, colleagues, faculty and staff. Display a respectful attitude at all times. Demonstrate concern and empathy for a diverse variety of patients. Address problems or questions to the appropriate person at the appropriate time.
- Professional Skills
Present a professional appearance and maintain personal health. Maintain composure during stressful situations. Work both independently and as a team member. Organize tasks, set priorities and manage projects. Maintain accuracy and confidentiality of patient records. Comply with established policies, procedures, infection control standards, Oregon Tech student conduct code, ADHA code of ethics and the class code of conduct. Provide care to all patients regardless of age, race, ethnic origin, physical or mental status or other condition.
Inability to Meet or Demonstrate Essential Functions
It is critical that each student understands if they do not perform to the expected level of professionalism in each category of the "Essential Functions" they risk being dismissed from the Program. Appropriate "Essential Functions of the Dental Hygienist" must be demonstrated, not only in the classroom and clinic, but in the entire surrounding areas, anywhere on or off campus when representing the university or Program. Any dismissal for failure to perform Essential Functions of a Dental Hygienist will automatically result in an "F" grade in the corresponding clinical course, and the student will not be considered for future re-entry into the program.
At the time of application, all candidates should ensure that they have the ability to perform these duties.
Potential Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens
Dental hygiene students and practicing hygienists must be aware of the possibility of being exposed to germs that can cause illness and/or long term diseases. However, it is important to note that careful adherence to infection control procedures learned while in the Program will help prevent exposure.