Purpose: Within the confines of a lock-step dental hygiene education curriculum, the remediation of clinical skills poses a challenge for both the faculty responsible for assuring clinical competence and for the students expected to meet the stringent clinical performance criteria. To gain an understanding of how dental hygiene programs meet remediation challenges, a survey of U.S. dental hygiene programs was conducted.
Methods: A questionnaire designed to elicit information on specific remediation protocols, the type of instructional methods used in clinical remediation, and the management of faculty work load and compensation when the need for remediation was identified was developed. The questionnaire was pretested by dental hygiene program administrators and then distributed to 227 U.S. dental hygiene programs via mail and Internet services with a follow-up mailing to non-respondents. Data were analyzed and reported as descriptive statistics using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS).
Results: An 80 percent (n = 181) response rate was obtained. A chi-square analysis of goodness of fit demonstrated no statistically significant difference between the respondents and the survey population in relationship to type of degree granted, educational setting, or geographic location. Results revealed an average student to clinical faculty ratio of five to one regardless of year of curriculum, educational setting, or geographic location. Just over half (53.6%, n = 97), reported having a written policy on clinical remediation with a clinical course syllabus being the most frequently cited mode of distribution. Ninety-eight percent (n = 177) indicated that clinical faculty met regularly to discuss student clinical progress. Issuing an incomplete grade, requiring the student to attend additional clinical sessions, and allowing the student to continue with his or her peers was the most frequent action taken when clinical remediation was needed at the end of the academic term (32.6%, n = 59). The most frequent remediation intervention strategy employed was one-on-one faculty instruction (87.3%, n = 158). Typodont practice and extra clinical time under one-on-one supervision were also identified by over half of the programs as clinical remediation methods. The majority reported that faculty responsible for managing remediation activities received no financial compensation for the remedial instruction (83%, n = 150).
Conclusions: The study demonstrates that dental hygiene programs do engage in student clinical skill remediation. Educators are encouraged to apply principles of psychomotor skill acquisition to increase remediation effectiveness.