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Dental hygiene and continuing competence.

All professional quality assurance (QA) and continuing competence (CC) programs aim to ensure acceptable levels of health care provider competence. (1) Continuing education encourages dental hygienists to renew their skills and knowledge so as to provide the most efficient and effective care to clients. In the same way that dental hygienists formulate a care plan for client therapy, learning activities--based on a career portfolio or personal development plan that includes predetermined goals--seem most likely to lead to improved delivery of care. Have a plan and process in place to diagnose individual learning needs, design learning activities, locate resources and evaluate outcomes define self-directed learning. (2) Input from colleagues and co-workers can also be helpful in deciding on a focus for study. The key for the learner is to choose learning opportunities that match the selected area of development or need for competence. (3)

Self assessment and critical reflection are vital elements for acquiring and processing information that will most encourage excellence in a practitioner's dental hygiene practice, and provide the opportunity to grow as a professional.

Technology has now made it much easier for all practitioners, regardless of where they reside, to access suitable evidence based resources that will meet their professional needs and learning styles. Internet self study courses, research articles, webcasts, and podcasts are widely available, and meet the requirements for continuing competence. More traditional methods of continuing education such as study clubs, lectures by experts in the field, and conferences remain popular choices for participants.

Whatever the format, in the current research and technological environment, most health care practitioners must be extremely efficient in keeping up-to-date. (4) There is a useful self assessment and activity planning tool for professional development available here: [see Section E; Form #6]

CDHA's Information Coordinator can often assist with research activities or educational resources, and can be reached at
A sampling of web based Continuing Education Resources from CDHA

Course                   Content/Goal                     Length

Work and Personal   Designed to help develop coping      13 hours
Life Balance        strategies and a personal plan
                    of action to deal with the
                    stress in your life.

Tobacco Cessation   Presents current evidence based      6-10 hours
                    facts about tobacco use and
                    tobacco cessation.

The Professional    Provides opportunities for            5 hours
Role                self-reflection and critical
                    thinking that will enhance your

Independent Dental  Provides the necessary             5 sections. 8
Hygiene Practice    knowledge and tools for dental   hours per section
Certificate         hygiene entrepreneurs to
                    establish and operate their own

Difficult           Designed to help you have the      5-8 hours. 5
Conversations       hard but necessary                modules-work at
                    conversations that we all have       own pace
                    to face.

Negotiation         Assists in developing or             5-8 hours
                    improving an individual's
                    persuasive communication

DVD Quarterly of    Produced by CME network in         4-5 hours of
Dental Hygiene      Partnership with the CDHA.            content

Dental Hygiene regulatory authorities, where appropriate, assign credit
hours to specific courses. A summary is locate don CDHA's Members Only
web site:

Other self study educational resources (some are free): The Ontario Dental Hygienists Association:

The American Dental Hygienists Association:



Dimensions of Dental Hygiene:


(1.) Asadoorian J, Locker D. The Impact of Quality Assurance programming: A Comparison of Two Canadian Dental Hygienist Programs. Journal of Dental Education 2006; 70(9): 965-71.

(2.) Jennings S. Personal Development Plans and self-directed Post Graduate Medical Journal 2007-83(982): 518-24.

(3.) Westphal C. Learning Never Stops-Keys to lifelong Learning. Access 2008; 22(4): 26-32.

(4.) Asadoorian J, Batty H. An evidence-Based Model of Effective Self-Assessment for Directing Professional Learning. International Journal of Dental Education 2005; 69(12): 1315-323.

CDHA welcomes your feedback:

CDHA staff
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Title Annotation:LIBRARY COLUMN
Publication:Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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