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J Dent Hyg. 2017 Oct;91(5):6-14.

A Mid-Level Dental Provider in Oregon: Dental hygienists' perceptions.


Purpose: Many states are exploring alternative provider models and examining the role of the dental hygienist to address access to care challenges as the United States continues to face increasing demands for oral healthcare services. The purpose of this study was to assess dental hygienists' opinions in the state of Oregon regarding the current limitations of dental hygienists' scope of practice, perceived need for a mid-level provider in Oregon, and personal interest in becoming a mid-level provider.Methods: In December 2013 a survey was mailed to a sample of 1,231 dental hygienists registered in Oregon representing 30% of the licentiates. All licentiates holding expanded practice permits (EPP) were included in the sample (n=351). The following categories were included in the 32-question survey: scope of practice, mid-level provider, current practice, and demographics.Results: A total of 440 surveys were returned for a response rate of 36%. Of the EPP holders, 51% responded to the survey. Over half of respondents (59%) believe that a mid-level provider is needed in the state. Respondents holding membership in the American Dental Hygienists' Association, as well as EPP holders, were significantly more likely to respond that a mid-level dental provider was needed in the state (p<0.0001). Ninety-one percent (n=400) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that if a mid-level provider was introduced in Oregon, the new provider should be a registered dental hygienist model. Forty-three percent (n=186) of respondents were interested in becoming mid-level providers and 47% (n=203) of respondents believed that the minimum education for a mid-level provider should be a bachelor's degree. The majority, 74% (n=137), of those interested in becoming a mid-level provider indicated a preference in completing their education through online teaching combined with a clinical internship.Conclusion: There is strong support from dental hygienists in Oregon that a need exists for a mid-level dental provider and that this provider model should be dental hygiene based. Individuals interested in developing a curriculum for a mid-level provider should consider including online teaching components with a clinical internship component.


access to care; alternative practice; dental hygiene workforce models; mid-level providers; public health

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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