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Indiana University South Bend

College of Health Sciences

Dental Hygiene Program

Program Goals, Objectives and Student Competencies


The mission of the programs in dental education is to be a leader in providing high quality education and clinical experiences to undergraduate students for future roles as oral health professionals. The program is committed to excellence in the theory and practice of dental hygiene and in the development of competent, socially sensitive, culturally diverse, and ethically responsible professionals.

Program Goals:

Indiana University South Bend Dental Hygiene program will:

  1. Provide students with an educational program that requires the highest level of professionalism

  2. Offer challenging educational experiences that promote the use of sound judgment, critical thinking skills, evidence based decision making, and delivery of high quality patient care

  3. Emphasize the role of the dental hygienist as a patient educator involved in community health engagement activities related to health promotion and disease prevention

Program Degree Objectives:

To be able to fulfill the requirements of a Bachelor Degree in Dental Hygiene and promote the overall program goals, graduates of the Department of Dental Hygiene at Indiana University South Bend will be able to:

  1. Utilize the knowledge and clinical competencies required to provide current, comprehensive dental hygiene services;

  2. Communicate - write, speak, listen - effectively acquire, develop, and convey ideas and information;

  3. Practice their profession adhering to the ethical, legal, and professional codes of conduct expected of the dental hygiene practitioner;

  4. Apply critical thinking skills to one’s practice of dental hygiene;

  5. Utilize the knowledge of the different career roles of the dental hygienist;

  6. Serve as a resource of oral health knowledge and education for the community and other health care professionals;

  7. Become an active participant in the community of professionals by developing leadership skills;

  8. Take an active role in effecting solutions to community problems and needs that will increase the access to care and ultimately the health of citizens;

  9. Apply to graduate programs

Competencies for the dental hygiene graduate define and organize the knowledge, skills and professional values of an individual ready for beginning dental hygiene practice in clinical and alternative settings. These flow directly from the program goals and objectives. They are stated in terms of what a student must be able to do to be considered competent by the profession after the completion of the Dental Hygiene curriculum. “Competency” implies performance at a clinically acceptable level.

These competencies will serve to:

  1. Define the core content of the curriculum by:

    1. Providing a method of stating what the graduate must know at the end of each semester, as well as what the graduate must be able to do after completing the Dental Hygiene Program.

    2. Establishing a basis for the content of all courses.

    3. Giving guidance in decision making related to pedagogy and course sequencing.

  1. Assess outcomes by:

    1. Having methods in place to measure the degree to which a student has acquired and can demonstrate the competencies needed to care for patients and enter the profession.

    2. Serving as benchmarks as students are promoted from one semester to the next leading to graduation and licensure.

The competencies should be viewed as standards, and serve as a guide for the dental hygiene curriculum. This educational plan needs regular review for continual improvement. The degree to which the curriculum is relevant, complete, educationally sound and organized will be a reflection of this educational plan.


The competencies are organized into three core goals based on the program’s goals and objectives:

  1. Professionalism

  2. Patient Care

  3. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Within each core goal there are two to four major competencies with each major competency having three to five supporting competencies. Each supporting competency has foundational knowledge, skills and values that are linked to individual courses. The supporting competencies are used as benchmarks in student, course, and program assessment. The supporting competencies are categorized through each course as Introductory, Developmental, and Competent to show the level of progression.

Major competencies:

The major competencies are defined as the ability to perform and provide a particular, but complex, service or task. The complexity of the service or task suggests that multiple and more specific abilities are required to support the performance of any major competency.

Supporting Competencies:

The more specific abilities are considered subdivisions of the major competencies. The acquisition and demonstration of a “Major Competency” requires a level of mastery of all supporting competencies related to that particular service or task.



    1. Ethics:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to manage ethical issues related to the practice of dental hygiene.

    1. Apply the ADHA code of ethics in all professional endeavors.

    2. Utilize quality assurance standards to ensure competent and professional patient care.

    3. Comply with state and federal laws, recommendations and regulations in the provision of dental hygiene care.

    4. Apply ethical reasoning by taking appropriate action against an incompetent, unethical or impaired colleague.

    5. Provide humane and compassionate care to all patients, respecting individual and cultural diversity.

    1. Professional Identity:

The dental hygiene graduate must contribute to the enrichment of dental hygiene by promoting the knowledge, skills and values of the profession.

    1. Participate in professional organizations at local, state, and/or national level.

    2. Advance the profession through service activities and affiliations with other professional and public organizations.

    3. Perform self-assessment for life-long learning and professional growth.

    4. Assume a role as clinician, educator, researcher, change agent, consumer advocate, or administrator as defined by ADHA.

    1. Information Management, Critical Thinking, Reflective Practice:

The dental hygiene graduate must be competent in the evaluation of current information and be able to synthesize the information in a critical, scientific manner.

    1. Evaluate scientific literature to make evidence based decisions concerning the safety and efficacy of oral health care products and treatments.

    2. Demonstrate ability to present dental information through written and oral communication.

    3. Provide accurate, consistent, and complete documentation for assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation of dental hygiene services.


4. Assessment:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to systematically collect, analyze and accurately record baseline data on the general, oral and psychosocial health status using methods consistent with medico legal principles.

    1. Obtain, review and update a complete medical and dental history, including an assessment of vital signs as indicated.

    2. Identify medical conditions that require special precautions or consultation prior to or during dental hygiene treatment.

    3. Perform a comprehensive examination using clinical, radiographic, periodontal, dental charting, and other data collection procedures to assess the patient’s needs.

    4. Analyze and interpret the assessment data to formulate a dental hygiene diagnosis.

  1. Planning:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to discuss oral health, identify actual and potential problems, relate contributing factors and propose treatment options.

    1. Establish a planned sequence of educational, preventive, and therapeutic services collaboratively with the patient, based on the dental hygiene diagnosis.

    2. Formulate goals and establish expected outcomes related to the dental hygiene diagnosis using a patient centered approach.

    3. Obtain the patient’s informed consent based on a thorough case presentation.

    4. Make referrals to other health care professionals as indicated by the patient care plan.

  1. Implementation:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to provide treatment that includes preventive and therapeutic procedures that promote, assist and maintain the oral health of the patient.

    1. Provide dental hygiene care to eliminate and/or control local etiologic factors to prevent and control caries, periodontal disease and other oral conditions.

    2. Utilize approved clinical techniques and behavioral management strategies to control pain and anxiety.

    3. Manage medical emergencies in the provision of patient care.

    4. Use approved infection control procedures.

  1. Evaluation:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of planned clinical and education services to meet the patients needs.

    1. Determine the outcomes of dental hygiene procedures using indices, examinations, and patient self-report.

    2. Determine patient satisfaction with oral health care received.

    3. Develop and maintain a supportive periodontal therapy program.

    4. Provide subsequent treatment or referrals based on evaluation findings.


  1. Community Involvement:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to initiate and assume responsibility for health promotion and disease prevention activities and effectively interact with diverse population groups.

    1. Identify services and agencies that promote oral health and prevent oral disease and related conditions.

    2. Assess, analyze, plan, implement and evaluate community-based oral health prevention strategies.

    3. Encourage the public (consumer groups, businesses, legislators, and government agencies) to support health care issues.

    4. Provide dental hygiene services in a variety of settings.

    5. Respond to personal, patient/client or community requests for information about dental concerns or issues.

  1. Self-care Education and Communication:

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to provide planned educational services using interpersonal communication skills and educational strategies to promote optimal health.

    1. Identify the health needs of individuals and assist them in the development of appropriate and individualized self-care plans.

    2. Encourage patients to assume responsibility for their health and promote adherence to self-care plans.

    3. Utilize effective written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

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