Faculty Role Model Clinical Experience Program: A Mechanism for Shaping the Oral Health Practitioner for Tomorrow

Halaris, Jane, and Kathleen Neveu

The University of Detroit Mercy Dental Hygiene Faculty Role Model (FRM) Clinical Experience Program was developed to reduce the inherent anxiety that all students feel during their first patient treatment experience. The primary goal of this program is to enable the student to gain confidence and allow for mentored experiential learning of clinic protocols and procedures in a more nurturing environment. The objectives of the program are to: 1) acquaint the dental hygiene student with patient care protocols; 2) reduce student anxiety during the patient care appointment; and 3) reinforce and/or increase faculty knowledge of clinic protocols and resources.

Provision of dental hygiene care is stressful, as patient care protocols and procedures are complex. Working in teams of two dental hygiene students, care was provided to one patient under the guidance of one dental hygiene faculty member at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) School of Dentistry. Students were mentored through all phases of the patient care process providing a one-on-one teaching-learning opportunity paced to meet each individual student‟s skill and confidence level. The program included student and faculty preparation workshops. A 10 clock hour activity was conducted that involved one clinic session (three hours) of review of clinical protocols and patient chart contents, two three-hour patient care appointments and a one hour post experience review session. The FRM took place in the third semester (winter term) of the dental hygiene curriculum. Regularly scheduled clinic faculty and faculty volunteers served as role model faculty.

Students completed a survey after the FRM. Ninety-two percent of students (n = 26) agreed or strongly agreed that they gained a better understanding of the dental hygiene appointment. One hundred percent agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more confident as a result of the program. The survey also illustrated areas for program improvement.