B Y CHRISTINE NATHE, RDH, MS
By now, you may have heard something
about the Transformation project. This
is an initiative of the ADHA to advance
dental hygiene by developing solutions
that address the trends occurring in dental
care. The ADHA initiated the project with the
help of the Santa Fe Group. As described on their
website, the Santa Fe Group is a unique group of internationally renowned scholars and leaders from business
and the professions bound by a common interest to improve
oral health. Together, the group strives to be catalysts of
positive change by leading the assembly of decision-makers
and stakeholders to generate innovative solutions for fundamental health system problems. 1
In collaboration with the ADHA, the Santa Fe Group
hosted an invitational workshop in the fall of 2014 to foster ideas to help transform the practice of dental hygiene to
meet the oral health needs of society. Following this meeting, a group of dental hygiene program directors collaborated to develop goals (see table) and domains necessary for
dental hygiene providers of the future.
This group further drafted models on how to implement
these competencies into existing dental hygiene curriculum. These were presented at the ADHA 2014 Annual Session in Las Vegas.
The truth is, change is inevitable, and if we become students of history, we realize that change is constant. Realizing this, it is imperative that dental hygienists understand
history and current trends and capitalize on the changing
dynamics seen in our demographics, infrastructure, economy, and societal values. With this understanding, dental
hygiene, led by dental hygienists, can be part of the changing landscape of dental care in the country.
Particularly interesting in the public health arena are the
discussions that have been generated by this transformation that imply that dental hygiene has an inherent role in
dental public health, and this role will continue to evolve in
dental hygiene. I do think it is quite amazing that although
continued on pg. 98
1. The Santa Fe Group retrieved on July 16, 14 from santafegroup.org.
2. ADHA Transforming Dental Hygiene Education: New Curricular
Domains and Models CE Course Handout. Retrieved on July 16,
2014 from http://www.adha.org/resources-docs/AS2014-ce-
CHRISTINE NATHE, RDH, MS, is director at the
University of New Mexico, Division of Dental
Hygiene, in Albuquerque, N. M. She is also the
author of “Dental Public Health Research”
( www.pearsonhighered.com/educator), which
is in its third edition with Pearson. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (505)
Foundation knowledge — Includes integration of basic
(including genetics and pharmacogenetics), behavioral,
and clinical science knowledge that can be applied to
patient care and functioning in all six roles of a dental
Customized patient-centered care — Includes skills in
patient assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, and dental
hygiene therapies and counseling to foster oral and systemic health. Includes the dental hygiene process of care.
Health care systems — Works within the oral care system
and with the broader health-care system to promote and
foster optimal health. Includes leadership, advocacy,
research, and business management skills, as well as skills
of a change agent to integrate oral health into health
Communication and collaboration — Communication
skills with patients, peers, and other health-care professionals and health-care teams to foster health and health
behavior. In addition to oral communication, the dental
hygienist must possess a high level of written communication skills, and the ability to effectively communicate with
technologies. Includes intraprofessional and interprofessional communication and collaboration skills.
Professionalism — Inculcates the values and ethics
needed to function as a leader in oral health care and
oral health promotion.
Critical thinking and research — Use of knowledge of
research methods, critical evaluation of the research, and
evidence-based skills in carrying out the roles of the dental
hygienists in the clinic, community, and health systems. 2
•;Understand;the;principles;driving;the;proposed;cur-ricula of the future of dental hygiene.
•;Identify;the;educational;programs;that;are;participat-ing, and expected results from the pilot study.
which includes the workforce environment and patient