Dental Tribune Nordic

EDHF unifies dental hygiene in common European curriculum

By Franziska Beier, Dental Tribune International
December 07, 2020

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Owing to considerable variation regarding the definition, practice, regulation and training of dental hygienists across the European Dental Hygienists Federation (EDHF) member states, the organisation has developed a standardised curriculum for dental hygiene. It is intended to assist dental hygiene educators in authorising or updating curricula, while taking into account their own local regulations.*

According to the EDHF, permitted activities, regulation, autonomy, qualification requirements and working environments of dental hygienists are extremely variable in its different member states. Dr James Field, director of learning and teaching at Cardiff University School of Dentistry and co-author of the curriculum, explained the reason for the new curriculum in an interview with Dental Tribune International. He said: “The EDHF was keen to develop a common curriculum for dental hygiene for use by educators and other stakeholders. It aims to provide a basis from which institutions can plan, benchmark and quality assure the training that they are providing for dental hygienists.”

Refine and harmonise dental hygiene curricula across Europe

Dr James Field is co-author of the novel curriculum. (Image: James Field)

When asked about the significance of the novel curriculum for dental hygiene education, Field replied: “We hope that the new curriculum will help to inform educators and institutions about how to structure, adapt and potentially improve their programmes. The EDHF would like the new documents to be shared with all stakeholders in dental hygiene education, including students. Only then will students be able to take true ownership of their learning and contribute to meaningful and necessary curriculum development.”

He continued: “In terms of the abilities of hygienists to care for the oral health needs of their local population, it is hoped that an outcome-based curriculum will help educators to shape professionals who can deliver safe and effective patient care to a high clinical standard.”

The new curriculum is expected to standardise dental hygiene curricula across Europe, while respecting regional, socio‐economic and cultural variations. In its consensus statement, the EDHF emphasises that the curriculum is not to be understood as a regulatory document but rather as a starting template which can be altered and refined in harmony with individual member state requirements.

Full access from beginning of next year

The project team was formed in 2017, and the papers were published at the end of 2019. The process was time-intensive because the EDHF decided to release the documents for open consultation and the final papers had to undergo blind peer review prior to publication, said Field.

The consensus statement, titled “A common European curriculum for dental hygiene”, has now been published in the November 2020 issue of the European Journal of Dental Education. This introductory paper is openly accessible. The other position papers outline the areas of professionalism, safe and effective clinical practice, patient-centred care and oral health in society. “Work is underway to make the remaining four domain articles open access as well. I’m hopeful that this will be successful and completed early into 2021,” commented Field.

The EDHF is a non-profit organisation that represents 24 national dental hygiene associations across the European Union, the European Economic Area and the World Health Organisation European Region. At present, the organisation, which was founded in 1999, represents associations with an estimated membership of 38,000 dental hygienists.

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