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Program Competencies

The curriculum has been designed to provide the student with the necessary foundation in the dental sciences as well as learning activities and lab/clinical experiences that will prepare each student to demonstrate competency for entry into the Dental Hygiene Profession.

Foundational Knowledge and Skills are acquired through didactic, laboratory and clinical instruction.  Foundational knowledge enables the student to answer specific questions on an examination and a foundation skill is the ability to follow specific steps outlined on a process/end product form in the lab setting.  Once the foundational skills are performed at an acceptable level the student is ready to perform these skills on a patient in the clinical setting.

Initially, students will perform services on clinic patients with the guidance of an instructor.  As the student becomes more confident and proficient s/he will perform these services more independently.  To demonstrate the student is capable of making appropriate decisions regarding patient care and is ready enter the workforce the student must demonstrate competency in four basic domains:   

  • Patient/Client Care
  • Health Promotion/Disease Prevention
  • Professional Growth and Development
  • Core Competencies in Ethics and Professionalism

Within each of these domains, the department faculty has identified 8 major competencies as well as a number of supporting competencies that must be demonstrated prior to graduation.  Completion of these competencies demonstrates the student can independently provide quality care when performing the skills outlined in Section 6606 of the NYS Education Law and are prepared to take the required licensing exams and to enter the workforce.

A Major Competency is the ability to perform or provide a specific but complex service or task. Multiple skills are required to support the performance of any major competency. The parameters for each major clinical competency are provided by the lead clinical instructor.

Supporting Competencies are subdivisions of the major competency and involve the specific abilities that must be performed and measured to demonstrate successful completion of a major competency. The student must satisfactorily perform these competencies without input from a fellow student, staff of faculty.

Major Competency #1

All graduates must be competent in providing all phases of the dental hygiene process of care to a diverse population of patients including the child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric patient; and will be capable of assessing the treatment needs of patients with special needs.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 1.1  Obtain, review and/or update and interpret an accurate medical/dental, pharmacological,  nutritional and radiographic history including vital signs; recognizing predisposing and etiological risk factors that require modification to care and conditions/medications that require special considerations.
  • 1.2  Perform a thorough extra and intraoral examination, correctly demonstrating all palpations of the head and neck differentiating normal from abnormal and accurately document abnormal findings.
  • 1.3  Detect and record all components of a dental examination utilizing visual observation,  radiographs and a caries detection device.
  • 1.4  Evaluate the periodontium and identify conditions that compromise one’s oral health and accurately document that information in the patient’s record.
  • 1.5  Identify the need for radiographs/digital images, justify the type and number to be exposed, obtain digital images/radiographs of diagnostic value; and distinguish normal from abnormal anatomical findings and accurately record that information in the patient’s record.
  • 1.6  Detect and describe location and type of calcareous deposits, extrinsic stains and soft deposits.
  • 1.7  Utilize critical thinking skills to develop a dental hygiene diagnosis using clinical evidence gathered.
  • 1.8  Establish a planned sequence of educational, preventive and therapeutic interventions with the patient based upon identified risk factors and the dental hygiene diagnosis.
  • 1.9  Determine goals and establish anticipated outcomes related to the needs and desires of the patient, personal clinical experience and scientific evidence.
  • 1.10 Present a proposed treatment plan and acquire informed consent; and discuss consequences and alternative treatment if the patient refuses the initial proposal.
  • 1.11 Apply principals of basic and advanced instrumentation to remove hard and soft deposits without causing trauma to teeth, soft tissues, and/or restorative materials.
  • 1.12 Provide comprehensive dental hygiene care and supporting services to maintain good oral health.
  • 1.13 Develop and maintain an oral health maintenance or continuing care interval.
  • 1.14 Evaluate patient satisfaction with oral healthcare received and the oral health status achieved; modifying care when deemed necessary.
  • 1:15 Obtain consultations and make referrals as appropriate.
  • 1:16 Accurately document information in the patient’s record.
Competency #2

All graduates must be competent in providing dental hygiene care for all classifications of periodontal disease including moderate to severe periodontal disease.  

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 2.1 Perform and properly document all components of a comprehensive periodontal chart.
  • 2.2 After evaluation of the periodontium, recognize etiologic factors and formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
  • 2.3 Manage pain during dental hygiene care using accepted clinical techniques to include the initiation of the stress reduction protocol and/or administration of topical and local anesthesia.
  • 2.4 Complete scaling and root planing procedures utilizing advanced instrumentation techniques.
  • 2.5  Administer a slow released locally delivered antibiotic subgingivally.
  • 2.6  Evaluate the outcomes of dental hygiene interventions utilizing indices, instruments, examination techniques and patient self reported information.
  • 2.7  Establish an appropriate maintenance or continuing care interval for each patient and make appropriate referrals when indicated.
Competency #3

All graduates must be competent in effectively communicating and interacting with diverse population groups and as well as other members of the health care team.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 3.1  Provide individualized chairside instructions; communicating with the patient at his/her level of understanding and taking into consideration the patient’s cultural beliefs.
  • 3.2  Motivate and encourage patients to assume responsibility for their own oral health.
  • 3.3  Educate patients, the patient’s parent if a minor, or caregivers on the etiology and prevention of various oral diseases and conditions.
  • 3.4  Present educational information to diverse populations in a variety of settings.
  • 3.5  Provide dietary counseling and explain the relevance to oral health.
  • 3.6  Exhibit cultural competency when planning and interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • 3.7  Effectively communicate with other members of the health care team.
Competency #4

All graduates must be competent in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating community based oral health programs including, health promotion and disease prevention activities.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 4.1 Assess the oral health needs of a community, as well as the quality and availability of resources.
  • 4.2 Develop an appreciation for how dental health care fits into the overall health care system.
  • 4.3 Evaluate reimbursement mechanisms and their impact on access to care for various populations.
  • 4.4 Develop a commitment to serving the public through community outreach activities.
  • 4.5 Participate in the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of a community based oral health program.
  • 4.6 Identify factors that can be used to motivate the public regarding health promotion disease prevention and/or health maintenance.
Competency #5

All graduates must be competent in identifying patients at risk for a medical emergency; ensure appropriate precautions are taken to minimize risks and be capable of providing appropriate life support measures if a medical emergency should occur.

Supporting Competencies:  the graduate must be able to

  • 5.1 Perform CPR using an AED
  • 5.2 Determine medical conditions that require special considerations prior to or during the dental hygiene appointment.
  • 5.3 Identify patients that require a physician’s clearance prior to treatment to inquire about the need for a prophylactic antibiotic, assessment of liver function and/or WBC count.
  • 5.4 Identify at-risk patients and ensure precautions are taken to minimize risks.
  • 5.5 Manage a medical emergency and accurately document information should an emergency occur.
Competency #6

All graduates must be competent in applying ethical, legal and regulatory concepts when providing dental hygiene services and will display professionalism and compassion when interacting with patients in the clinic and during all off campus enriching assignments.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 6.1  Integrate the ADHA’s Professional Code of Ethics in all professional endeavors as well as in the classroom, lab, clinic, and when participating in all off campus rotations. 
  • 6.2  Adhere to the local, NYS and federal laws, recommendations and regulations.
  • 6.3  Utilize acceptable infection control protocols to minimize the transmission of disease.
  • 6.4  Utilize radiation safety guidelines when exposing radiographs and digital images.
  • 6.5  Assume responsibility and accountability for actions and services provided.
  • 6.6  Provide humane and compassionate care to all patients in a fair and equitable manner.
  • 6.7  Maintain honesty and confidentiality as well as other principles of risk management to minimize liability.
Competency #7

All graduates must be competent in performing self assessment skills to demonstrate a commitment to life long learning and professional growth.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 7.1  Identify professional roles and alternative career options for dental hygienists in nontraditional settings.
  • 7.2  Assume responsibility for participation in professional organizations.
  • 7.3  Evaluate professional issues and scientific literature in order to make decisions that will advance the profession.
  • 7.4  Assume responsibility for professional growth through lifelong learning.
Competency #8

All graduates must be competent in critically evaluating research and continuing education presentations and journal articles to determine their value in dental hygiene practice; and will utilize the information when developing problem solving strategies and managing patient care.

Supporting Competencies: the graduate must be able to

  • 8.1 Utilize critical thinking skills and make clinical decisions when developing an appropriate treatment plan based on accepted scientific principles.
  • 8.2 Recommend products and interventions based on accepted scientific principles as well as the patient’s and clinician’s preferences.
  • 8.3 Evaluate current scientific literature to promote oral health to the public and/or when educating other professionals.

Dental Hygiene
Program Director
Pamela Quinn