Exceptional the new normal for dental hygiene graduates

Dental hygiene diploma grads score above national average on certification exam for tenth straight year.


(Edmonton) For dental hygiene graduates of the University of Alberta, exceptional is the new normal.

For 10 consecutive years, the dental hygiene diploma grads have scored above the national average on their certification exam—a feat the program’s director says is no coincidence.

“We set high standards for our students,” says Sharon Compton, director of the dental hygiene program in the U of A's School of Dentistry. “So when results like this happen, we are all so proud because we know the students work hard—and their above-average exam results are proof.”

The National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination has five categories, each reflecting what the students learn in their program: assessment and diagnosis, foundations, implementation, planning and evaluation, and professionalism. The exam results are also categorized into three domains: knowledge/comprehension, application and critical thinking. The U of A graduates’ scores were above the national average in all categories.

Compton credits three aspects of the program for contributing to the students’ high performance—a strong foundation based on the preprofessional study requirements, quality teaching staff, and dedicated and gifted students. Before they are admitted to the program, students demonstrate an ability to manage a rigorous course load. And with the excellent teaching staff who are committed to delivering a high-quality education, the result is graduates who perform and achieve above national standards, she says.

"The University of Alberta is recognized as an excellent program, and I am very proud to have this further validation through receipt of the national exam results."

On average, the dental hygiene diploma program has 42 students admitted each year.