Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Susan Daniel

Committee Member

Tara Newcomb

Committee Member

Denise Claiborne


Purpose: evaluate dental hygiene graduates’ perceived preparedness and confidence to practice in alternative settings. Methods: a survey was sent through ADHA to all members who graduated within the last year (2015-2016) with a minimum of one-week work experience. The survey consisted of demographics, and two alternative practice scales. Independent variables characterized as follows: (1) graduate of a baccalaureate degree dental hygiene program within an allied health science program, (2) graduate of a baccalaureate degree dental hygiene program within a dental school, or (3) graduate of an associate degree dental hygiene program. The dependent variables were preparedness, confidence and practice management skills. Results: A total of 319 responses were received; 303 participants met inclusion criteria. The majority (97.7%) of the sample was female. Over two thirds of respondents (68.5%) were aged 20 to 30 years. Most respondents (85.8%) worked in a private setting. Only 2 dental hygienists worked under direct access. Most respondents had an associate degree. Dental hygienists aged 20–30 years showed significantly higher level of preparedness over those above 30 years, p =0.043. Dental hygienists practicing under direct supervision demonstrated significantly lower levels of preparedness than the other hygienists, p =0.030. Graduates from programs located in a collage of allied health reported being less prepared for alternative practice than graduates from programs located in a dental school; p=0.032. Conclusions: Most hygienists from this study were working in dentists’ offices; however, majority felt prepared to pursue careers in alternative settings. Hygienists showed a high level of confidence in their clinical skills but they were not confident enough with their practice management skills. No differences were identified for self-confidence or practice management skills.