One Year Later, Symposium Outcomes Continue to Drive Change in Dental Hygiene Profession

The “Transforming Dental Hygiene Education: Proud Past, Unlimited Future” symposium — a collaborative event convened by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), the Santa Fe Group and the ADHA’s Institute for Oral Health (IOH) — took place a year ago, but continues to affect positive change for the dental hygiene profession. The three-day forum in Chicago brought together more than 100 key stakeholders with diverse perspectives to discuss the need to transform the educational requirements and practice for the dental hygiene profession.

“Our goal for the symposium was to bring dental hygiene educators, researchers and practitioners together with leaders from other health disciplines, dental industry, government, philanthropy, and business to strategically discuss the role that the dental hygiene profession could play in improving the public’s overall health,” said ADHA Executive Director Ann Battrell, MSDH. “We gained a wealth of information from the participants. The outcomes from the symposium highlighted the need for change in dental hygiene education, and the need for dental hygienists to be integrated into the overall health care delivery system to meet the changing needs of society.”

“The symposium served as a catalyst to heighten awareness of the need for dental hygiene education and practice to advance in order to better meet the needs of the public,” said ADHA Director of Education and Research Pamela Steinbach, RN, MS. “It will be the responsibility of the profession, dental hygiene educational leaders, academic institutions and the professional association to continue to drive this change.”

The symposium fueled the long term multi-dimensional transformation of the dental hygiene profession by providing an outline for necessary steps and factors needed to advance the profession. Educational curriculum and programs will be the primary focus. Other factors such as finding the right people to engage the masses and drive change, advocating for an interprofessional educational experience for students, and establishing pilot programs within existing programs, have created a foundation upon which to revolutionize the profession.

“The new ADHA strategic plan changed most significantly through our core ideology and vision statement. The core ideology reflects our commitment to leading the transformation of the profession to improve the public’s oral and overall health,” said Swanson Jaecks. “Our vision is to integrate dental hygienists into the health care delivery system as essential primary care providers to expand access to oral health care. The opportunities that lie before us to profoundly transform dental hygiene are truly exciting, and afford us the chance to impact and improve both the public and our profession in ways never done before.”

For more visit the ADHA at: