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Dental Hygiene for Students: Program Evaluation

Recommendations and Justifications

From the data presented, it is recommended that dental hygiene students receive additional training to enhance their skills in applying dental sealants to school children. The training should specifically target how dental sealants are applied on the distal fossa and the lingual grove as these are the two important areas where the students performed dismally, leading to low retention rates. With targeted training and exposure, dental hygiene students should be allowed to continue applying dental sealants in the State Sealant Program as they provide the service at a low cost compared to licensed dental hygienists.

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Additionally, it is recommended that dental hygiene students focus on areas that they are able to achieve a higher retention rate. The findings suggest that the students achieved a reasonable retention rate in applying sealants to the central fossa region. Focusing on one specific area, in my view, will not only ensure a high retention rate but also enable the students to increase their speed in applying sealants. The data shows that only 518 children received dental sealants from dental hygiene students compared to 3,443 children who received the service from registered dental hygienists. The slow rate of service exhibited by the students may be a result of their inexperience in other areas that require sealants, as demonstrated by the low retention rates of dental sealants applied by the students in the distal fossa and lingual grove regions. Consequently, it is important for the students to focus on one area where their efforts show promising results.

Secondary Issues

The key partners that should be included in making this decision final include state and local health department officials, contracted dental hygienists and assistants, dental hygiene students, school heads and education officials, parents, community-based religious organizations, and school children. The criterion for inclusion of the stakeholders is based on participation in the program and use of the evaluation results (Lobo, Petrich, & Burns, 2014). The communication of key findings to the mentioned key partners will be done using personal contacts and community forums. Specifically, state and local health officials, contracted dental hygienists and assistants, dental hygiene students, and education officials will be contacted via personal emails to ensure the findings reach the intended audience, while school heads, parents, religious organizations, and school children will be contacted via community-based forums. The responses of key partners are likely to be in support of the recommendations and conclusions made based on the objective techniques used to conduct the evaluation. Due to the worrying retention rates, it is suggested that parents and children be educated on proper oral health behaviors. Effective tooth brushing and dietary habits can form the basis of the education plan (Horowitz, Kleinman, & Wong, 2013).

From the review of the data presented, it is evident that there are other evaluation issues that need to be considered. First, a significant number of children who received dental sealants from licensed dental hygienists reported retention problems, particularly in the distal fossa and lingual grove regions. Additionally, the cost per sealant retained seems higher for some registered dental hygienists than for others despite the fact that the program targeted a homogeneous population. These issues can be addressed by retraining the licensed dental hygienists and ensuring that the appropriateness of materials and technologies used to apply the dental sealants. Lastly, program staffing costs and the nature of dental hygiene school attended by the students form important pieces of information that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the program.

References

Horowitz, A.M., Kleinman, D.V., & Wong, M.Q. (2013). What Maryland adults with young children know and do about preventing dental caries. American Journal of Public Health, 103(6), 69-76.

Lobo, R., Petrich, M., & Burns, S.K. (2014). Supporting health promotion practitioners to undertake evaluation for program development. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1390-1406.

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