Motivating influences and ability-based outcomes of dental hygiene baccalaureate education in Canada

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There is a scarcity of studies on Canadian baccalaureate dental hygienists. As discussions about baccalaureate education for dental hygiene continue on a national level, examining outcomes of earning a dental hygiene degree is paramount.


To investigate the motivating reasons and ability-based outcomes of earning a Bachelor of Dental Science in Dental Hygiene (BDSc) degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada.


UBC dental hygiene entry-to-practice (ETP) and degree-completion (DC) graduates (n = 116; 32%) from 1994 to 2016 participated in an online mixed-methods survey. Survey questions explored motivating reasons for pursuing dental hygiene degree education and abilities gained during their degree.


Primary reasons for pursuing a degree were personal satisfaction (82%), increasing knowledge base (82%), increasing employment opportunities (78%), status/recognition of a degree (76%), accessing graduate education (68%) and improving critical thinking abilities (61%). For DC graduates, abilities strengthened included enhanced skills for appraising research (92%), enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills (90%), enhanced skills for retrieving scientific information (88%) and increased value for lifelong learning (84%). Enhanced abilities positively influenced client care in the areas of evidence-based decision-making, communicating information to clients, and collaborating with other professionals. Overall, 93% of respondents believe a baccalaureate degree should be the ETP credential for dental hygiene because it enhances critical thinking and better prepares graduates for diverse roles in society with more complex populations.


The results highlight the impact of baccalaureate education on dental hygiene practice in Canada.

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