National Associations Collaborate to Create Core Competencies for Graduate Dental Hygiene Education



(Washington, DC)—Educational guidelines for those receiving graduate degrees in dental hygiene have been released from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). The Core Competencies for Graduate Dental Hygiene Education identify eight "core competency domains" or general categories of educational content and establish benchmarks for educational quality, particularly with respect to curriculum development and enhancement.

Graduate education in dental hygiene is imperative for developing a cadre of dental hygiene professionals who will lead the profession and assume leadership roles in health care and education, as well as developing scholars to participate in the generation and dissemination of knowledge. All dental hygiene graduate programs, both those in existence today, and those yet to be developed, must prepare graduates to assume these roles and provide them with the tools to initiate as well as to adapt to change.

"To stay in step with our evolving knowledge about oral care and health, dental hygienists must prepare for new roles in education, research, clinical practice, and other arenas," said ADEA President Leo E. Rouse, D.D.S. "ADEA is proud to contribute to the development of the Core Competencies for Graduate Dental Hygiene Education, which will ultimately enhance the educational experience of all dental hygienists."

"Partnering with ADEA to develop the Core Competencies for Graduate Dental Hygiene Education has been a very positive and rewarding experience for ADHA," said ADHA President Pam Quinones, RDH, BS. "Previously, there was no benchmark to assure the quality and consistency for graduate dental hygiene education programs. Working together to advance this much needed resource provides an important step in the development of strong new leaders who will help to shape the dental hygiene profession of the future."

The competencies will further define the body of dental hygiene professional knowledge; inform and guide faculty members, students, and other stakeholders in a common understanding of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics of dental hygiene program graduates; and establish a benchmark of educational quality and content.

The Core Competencies for Graduate Dental Hygiene Education were approved by the governing bodies of both ADEA and ADHA in March 2011. The two associations agreed to collaborate in 2010. Discussion among both the ADEA Graduate Dental Hygiene Program Directors Special Interest Group and the ADHA Council on Education began in 2008.

Download a copy of the competencies at