Dental hygienist is known to be one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. It’s no wonder that more and more people are considering this career due to the excellent job prospects and above-average salary. Generally, dental hygienist needs to obtain licensure from the State where they are practicing and they are also required to obtain a certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from an accredited school. What is dental hygienist school accreditation? Let’s take a look.
In the United States, the accreditation of all programs is administered by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The accreditation of educational program was administered by the Council on Dental Education from the early 1940’s up to 1975. Then, the accreditation duties were carried out by the Commission on Accreditation on Dental and Dental Auxiliary Educational Programs. In 1979, the name of Commission on Dental Accreditation was adopted. Comprising of 30 members, the Commission on Dental Accreditation includes an American Dental Hygienists’ Association representative along with members from other disciplines and public representatives.
The Accreditation Standards for Education Programs in Dental Hygiene are developed for these purposes:
1) To function as a model for the development of dental hygiene educational programs
2) To function as a model for the advancement of established educational programs
3) To protect public welfare
4) To establish the standards for the appraisal of new and established programs
A dental hygiene educational program has to meet the Accreditation Standards set by the Commission to achieve accreditation status. Dental hygiene, along with other practices, is an essential form of healthcare for the general public. By setting the Accreditation Standards, the Commission on Dental Accreditation ensures that the hygienists that graduate from accredited programs are well-trained and well-equipped to provide the highest level of care to the public. Accreditation is also instrumental in the maintenance of the quality programs in the United States.
In 1953, there were 21 accredited dental hygiene programs. Today, the number of accredited programs had grown to more than 200. The Commission on Dental Accreditation is recognized by the US Department of Education and the dental profession. Here are the core responsibilities of the Commission on Dental Accreditation:
1) Appraises programs to ensure that the approved accreditation standards, institutional objectives, and programs goals are fulfilled
2) Through institutional self-evaluation, the Commission continues to appraise and enhance the programs
3) Promotes innovations in the design of programs in accordance to sound educational principles
4) Offers consultation in the early and ongoing development of programs
The Accreditation Standards cover Institutional Effectiveness, Educational Program, Administration, Faculty, and Staff, Educational Support Services, Health and Safety Provisions, and Patient Care Services. The accreditation of a dental hygienist program is thorough and comprehensive. When you enroll in an accredited program, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible education.