Practice Trends of Dental Hygiene Students Completing Specialty Tracks

Ledford, Jennifer M.; Wilder, Rebecca S.; Chichester, Stacey R.; George, Mary C.
July 2004
Journal of Dental Hygiene;Summer2004, Vol. 78 Issue 3, p1
Academic Journal
Purpose: The purpose of this research was to determine the practice trends of dental hygiene baccalaureate degree recipients who participated in a specialty track. Methods: A survey was developed, pilot tested, revised, and mailed to a sample of 265 dental hygienists who graduated from the baccalaureate degree dental hygiene program at University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry between 1987 and 1998. Analysis included descriptive statistics, a non-parametric analysis of variance for the ordinal-scaled responses, and a chi-square to compare nominal responses. Results: Survey responses along with telephone interviews yielded a response rate of 68% (n=181). Seventy percent of the respondents had been practicing dental hygiene for six or more years. Ninety-six percent had worked in general private dental practice, 29% in a periodontal dental practice, and 18% in a pediatric dental setting. The top three specialty tracks completed were hospital dentistry (24%), periodontology (20%), and pediatric dentistry (19%). Fifty-six percent of respondents would like to obtain a specialty track position if given the opportunity. Forty-four percent (n=16) of those who experienced the periodontal specialty track have worked in a periodontal setting, and 36% (n=12) of those who participated in the pediatric specialty track have worked in a pediatric office. Eighty-eight percent agreed or strongly agreed that the specialty track was an important part of their dental hygiene education. Conclusion: The results imply that the specialty track is a positive learning experience for students and should be continued. Data from this survey has implications to other dental hygiene programs offering or planning to offer specialty tracks.


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