Standards of Dental Hygiene Conduct
Dental hygienists are responsible, by law, to the people of the State of Washington, for specific standards of dental hygiene conduct:
By law WAC 246-815-160—”The standards of dental hygiene conduct or practice identify minimum responsibilities of the registered dental hygienist licensed in Washington in health care settings as provided in the Dental Hygiene Practice Act, chapter 18.29 RCW, and the Uniform Disciplinary Act, chapter 18.130 RCW. The standards provide consumers with information about quality care and provide the secretary of health (of the department of health), guidelines to evaluate safe and effective care. The dental hygienist assumes the responsibility, public trust and obligation to adhere to the standards of dental hygiene practice”. 18.130.010 “Intent. It is the intent of the legislature to strengthen and consolidate disciplinary and licensure procedures for the licensed health and health-related professions by providing a uniform disciplinary act with standardized procedures for the licensure of health care professionals and the enforcement of laws the purpose of which is to assure the public of the adequacy of professional competence and conduct in the healing arts.”
Occupational hazards for the field of dental hygiene may include but are not limited to: exposure to infectious diseases such as AIDS, COVID19, and Hepatitis, exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances, accidental injury, neuromuscular problems, exposure to bloodborne pathogens, exposure to radiation, and allergic reactions to latex, anesthetic agents, or other chemical agents. Students enrolled in the dental hygiene program are provided with in-depth instructions on OSHA and WISHA Safety and Infection Control Policies and approved COVID 19 Safety Plans employed in the dental hygiene program. Students are required to sign a “Hazards and Risks” acknowledgment document.
Latex is an integral part of dentistry; although latex free gloves are used in clinic, rubber dams, suction tubes, etc. may contain latex. Individuals with a history of some prior allergic condition, such as hay fever, environmental allergies, and drug allergies, may be at risk for latex hypersensitivity. Individuals with a documented latex allergy must submit clearance from a physician prior to participation in pre-clinical or clinical activities.
Essential Curriculum Components and Technical Standards
While in the program, dental hygiene students are required to be operators and patients, and to deliver and receive injections of local anesthetic and to administer and receive nitrous oxide sedation for dental hygiene learning experiences.
These activities are essential components of the dental hygiene curriculum.
Essential Functions for Admission, Promotion, and Graduation
The department of Dental Hygiene has adopted the following essential functions for admission, promotion and graduation for its entry-level professional program. Dental Hygiene is an intellectually, physically, and psychologically demanding profession. Students acquire the foundation of knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors needed throughout the dental hygienists’ professional career. Those abilities that the dental hygienists must possess to practice safely and in a professional competent manner are reflected in the essential functions that follow.
Candidates for the degree must be able to meet these minimum standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, for successful completion of degree requirements.
Essential Functions: Students must be able to meet the following minimum standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, for successful completion of degree requirements.
A. Visual Acuity
- Must be able to read small printed labels on medications and other pertinent supplies.
- Must be able to read small numbers on instruments.
- Must be able to determine detail in small areas of the mouth varying from <5mm to several cm.
- Must possess adequate depth perception to evaluate size, shape and texture in small areas with minimal contrast
- Must be able to determine very slight variations in color.
B. Speaking Ability
- Verbal expression must be clear and distinct enough to enunciate dental terminology while wearing a face mask.
- Must be able to express thoughts clearly in English.
C. Motor Skills
Must have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and treatment to patients including:
- The ability to directly operate foot controls using fine movements
- The ability to operate hand and mechanical dental hygiene instruments around the teeth and structures in the oral cavity
- The ability to perform palpation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers and procedures
- The ability to transfer and position disabled patients and to physically restrain patients who lack motor control
- The ability to position and reposition self around patient and chair in a sitting and standing position.
Must have coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and integrated use of the senses of touch and vision to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and treatment to patients as detailed above.
D. Adaptive Ability
- Must be able to successfully complete required tasks/functions under stressful conditions.
- Must be able to perform with minimal supervision.
- Must be able to interact appropriately with all members of the dental team, patients, patient representatives (e.g. parents, guardians, family members, interpreters, etc.).
- Must be able to function in a structured environment with time constraints.
E. Language Ability
- Must be able to read, write, speak, record and report in English.
- Must be able to comprehend written and oral directions given in English and carry them out.
- Must be able to have conversations in English on the telephone and one-on-one.
- Must be able to observe demonstrations in lecture, clinical and laboratory settings. Observation requires the functional use of vision, hearing and somatic sensations.
- Must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, and patient representatives (e.g. parents, guardians, family members, interpreters, etc.), as well as perceive nonverbal communications.
- Must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with other members of the dental team and health care community to convey information essential for safe and effective care. Communication includes: speech, language, reading, writing and computer literacy.
H. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
Must possess the ability to effectively solve problems.
- Must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize information in a timely fashion. For example, the student must be able to synthesize knowledge and integrate the relevant aspects of a patient’s history and examination findings to develop an effective treatment plan.
- Must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand spatial relationships of anatomical structures.
I. Behavioral and Social Attributes
Must possess the psychological ability required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities to include the exercise of good judgment:
- The prompt completion of all responsibilities inherent to diagnosis and care of clients
- The ability to demonstrate attributes of empathy, integrity, concern for others
- Interest, motivation, and development of mature, sensitive, empathetic, and effective relationships with patients
- The ability to give, receive, and positively respond to constructive feedback
- The ability to work within the context of a group or a team of peers
- The ability to demonstrate intrapersonal coping skills
- Must maintain a professional appearance and hygiene.
- Must have the ability to be timely and dependable.
- Must be able to tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads and function effectively under stress
- Must be able to adapt to a changing environment, display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients.
- Must demonstrate professionally ethical behavior, including the ability to comply with rules, regulations, professional Code of Ethics and policies of the College and Clinical Affiliates.
J. Curriculum Requirements
- Must be able to successfully complete, with or without reasonable accommodation, all required essential components of the curriculum.
K. Tests and Evaluations
- Must be able to successfully complete both written and practical periodic examinations which are employed by the Dental Hygiene Program as an essential component of the curriculum to evaluate competence.
- Must demonstrate successful completion of these examinations as a condition for continued progress through the curriculum.
L. Clinical Assessments
- Must be able to successfully demonstrate, with or without reasonable accommodations, competence of clinical skills in both laboratory and clinical settings.
The Dental Hygiene Program is committed to supporting student success and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate the essential functional abilities. To successfully complete the dental hygiene program, the student must be able to demonstrate performance of all functional abilities and completion of the published Dental Hygiene Competencies.
Disability Support Services
The dental hygiene program, as part of YVC, is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. The program does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran status. When requested, and with appropriate documentation, the program will provide reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified students with disabilities. Student who need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, emergency medical condition, or need special arrangements in case a building must be evacuated, should notify the Program Coordinator and the instructor of the respective course. More information is available through Disability Support Services at 509.574.4961.
Students are responsible for their own transportation and for complying with parking regulations on campus and in the assigned clinical agencies.
Academic Standards When Enrolled in the Dental Hygiene Program
Dental Hygiene courses must be passed with a minimum of 1.7 (C-) and completed in consecutive sequence.
A dental hygiene program cumulative 2.5 GPA or above is required to continue in the program.
If a student withdraws from the program or fails to successfully complete a course or courses, the student forfeits his or her position in the program.
Reapplication to the program (starting with the first year) is necessary.
The reapplication will be evaluated and ranked in exactly the same manner as any new application.
Identification Of Positive Criminal History—Washington State Criminal History Repository
Department of Health— Licensing Application
DOH conducts criminal background check on every applicant for licensure (DH program, dentistry, etc.)
- Applicants must answer the DOH Information Data Sheet with integrity and honesty. Future licensure is at great risk if false information is submitted.
- With positive criminal history, the applicant must include all reports and court documents along with detailed and complete explanations, with the application for Washington State licensure.
- Positive criminal history cases are submitted to a DOH review panel where decisions regarding licensure (and possible stipulations) are determined.
- Each case identifying positive criminal history is managed as an individual case.
- License stipulations may be obligatory if patient harm is potential.
- Applicants with positive criminal history may attempt to get the violation records expunged.
Enrollment in the Dental Hygiene Program
A criminal background check is required of each student who is accepted into the Dental Hygiene Program. Verified Credentials is the agency conducting the background checks which will include a 10-panel drug screening. A letter of explanation and details will be mailed upon acceptance into the Dental Hygiene Program.
- It is imperative that the student with an identification of positive criminal history communicate with the dental hygiene department coordinator(s) regarding the violation(s) incurred, and the circumstances of the incident(s).
- Students must provide honest, detailed, and complete explanations to the dental hygiene department.
- Omission of information or fraudulent answers to the Personal Data Sheet questions will adversely affect dental hygiene enrollment.
- During enrollment, specific agencies/institutions participating in scheduled assignments within the dental hygiene curriculum, must be advised of visitations by students with criminal history.
- The laws of Washington State do not allow community college programs to discriminate in admission policies based on the areas covered by the questions on the Personal Data form. Consequently, it is possible that an applicant be admitted to and successfully complete the Dental Hygiene Program and not be eligible for licensure.
- Certain convictions may prevent students from completing program requisite field work experience and may result in the student’s ineligibility to complete the program requirements.
Ethical standards of conduct that apply to Dental Hygiene students are described in The Law Relating to Dental Hygiene Practice, The American Dental Hygienists Code of Ethics for Dental Hygienists, Dental Hygiene Policies and Procedures Handbook, YVC Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities, Dental Hygiene Clinical Handbooks, procedures manuals and individual Dental Hygiene course syllabi.
A student will be assigned a failing grade in a Dental Hygiene course and subsequently dismissed from the Dental Hygiene program, for failure to comply with ethical standards of conduct.
High school students interested in health care careers should select a college preparatory tract which includes chemistry, algebra, biology and college preparatory English. The study of foreign language in high school is encouraged. The selection process awards credit for skills in language in addition to English. The selection process also awards credit for paid or volunteer work in the dental field, community service, leadership experiences, and team participation.
High School Diploma
All applicants are required to have earned a high school diploma or to have completed the General Education Diploma (GED) requirements.
Applicants must submit a high school transcript or GED certificate.