CODA accepts recommendation to measure needs assessment for hygiene school expansion

Feb. 3, 2012
CODA accepts recommendation to examine needs in hygiene school expansion

The American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) ruled on Feb. 3, 2012, to accept the recommendation to require a formal needs assessment to determine the feasibility of proposed dental hygiene programs.

“This is a great step that CODA has taken that ADHA believes will help reduce the saturation of certain job markets throughout the country,” said Pam Quinones, RDH, BS, ADHA President. “Educational advocacy has been a point of emphasis for ADHA and this shows that when we have the support of hygienists nationwide we can affect positive outcomes in this arena.”

Based in part on a recommendation submitted to CODA by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and further refined by CODA’s Dental Hygiene Review Committee the new language included on the initial program application for CODA accreditation reads:

It is required that the sponsoring institution include within their application for accreditation documentation demonstrating the conduct of a formal needs assessment. The needs assessment must include the evaluation and verification of current and local/regional data indicating an adequate patient population, qualified faculty and administration, and present employment opportunities for graduates.

Additional new language in the initial application for CODA program accreditation reads:

1. Describe the results of the institutional needs assessment that provided the basis for initiating a new program.
2. Provide evidenced-based documentation of current and local/regional data which verifies an adequate patient population, qualified faculty and administration, and present employment opportunities for graduates.

These new revisions will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2013. ADHA anticipates that applications which are submitted for the April 1, 2012, deadline will be required to provide the formal needs assessment as supplemental information as they will be reviewed by the Dental Hygiene Review Committee in January 2013, after the effective date.

The proliferation of new dental hygiene programs has been a key issue for ADHA and dental hygienists in recent years prompting ADHA to establish a letter-writing campaign for hygienists nationwide to share their concern with CODA. The campaign produced more than 700 letters from concerned hygienists from 45 different states. CODA also hosted an open hearing at ADHA’s recent annual session in Nashville, Tenn., where more than 150 hygienists attended, many of whom provided testimony on this issue.

ADHA strongly believes that requiring a formal needs assessment as part of the initial accreditation process for new dental hygiene programs will help to alleviate the flooding of the dental hygiene market in areas where there are too few jobs to support the existing workforce as well as new graduates.

ADHA will have more information on the implementation of this decision in the coming days. Visit for updates on this issue.