As easy as it is to renew a license, half of dental hygienists view the process as being a “rubber stamp” rather than “ensuring updated skills and competence among dental professionals,” according to a survey conducted by RDH eVillage in May 2015.
The survey inquired about any difficulties in renewing dental hygiene licenses. Even the cost of license renewal, though, was viewed as “reasonable” by 67%.
However, only 43% said license renewal is an effective process to ensuring competency among dental professionals. Forty-one percent said renewing a license is a “rubber stamp” process, and 16% were uncertain.
“There is no mechanism in place to verify all licensee CE information,” an Idaho dental hygienist said. “I have witnessed other professionals lying about their CE or using tapes that are 20 years old, and using those tapes year after year. Some have even asked me if they could copy my form, even though they never attended the courses.”
Other articles by Hartley
- 12 dentists in the movies: Remember these docs?
- Career satisfaction survey: Coping with stress
- 80 cities where dental hygienists are in search of 80 degrees
A Connecticut hygienist added, “I feel that no officials are checking up on continuing education credits for qualifications for licensure in Connecticut.”
The survey, which was distributed to all licensed dental professionals subscribing to PennWell’s digital publications, generated responses from 258 dental hygienists.
Dental hygienists state:
- They receive ample notification prior to the deadline of an expiring license (82%)
- Fees for licensure renewal are too expensive (32%, compared to the 67% mentioned above who believe fees are reasonable)
- Agencies overseeing licensure allow dental professionals to take advantage of available technology to renew (62%)
- The overall process for renewing a license is “very easy” (49%, and an additional 35% said the process was “very thorough but reasonable.”)
As indicated above, most dental hygienists are content with the license renewal process. Some of the critical comments shared with RDH eVillage included:
- Alaska: During this past renewal year, they were unable to issue new licenses on time and had to extend the date from Dec. 31 to Feb. 28. A lot of dentists and hygienists still didn't receive new licenses in time, nor was there any communication from the board about their status.
- California: DHCC doesn't answer their phone. Can't leave messages. Don't return phone calls. They are punitive, not helpful.
- California: I wish home study would count for all of the required CEs. I feel like I always learn more from these courses than ones that require physical attendance.
- California: We used to be able to renew online. Now we have to send in our renewals. I prefer online to mail so I know the process has been successful and I have a little more time to complete the process.
- California: It takes too long to receive the license after the paperwork is sent in for renewal.
- Colorado: The reminders that come in the mail are on a 3x5 postcard. Easy to mistake for junk mail. No other notice is given, and it's not good!
- Colorado: Last time I attempted to renew my license, our state had gone to a completely online process, which wasn't working properly, and the only person who could assist me was on vacation. I ended up missing the deadline and decided not to renew.
- Connecticut: Our fees have doubled within the last couple of years. No explanation given as to why and the process has not changed. It is just another way to make money.
- Florida: It would be nice if the continuing education courses that we chose were left entirely up to us to decide, based on each of our specialties such as pediatrics, ortho, geriatrics, etc., instead of dictating to us what we should value as pertinent. This would allow us to spend more time updating skills in our designated areas rather than "rubber stamping" mandatory courses. Those of us who have been practicing for a long time don't need to be reminded of what is ethical, nor do we need another course on AIDS. What we do need is a course on the latest technology and how it might help us in our individual practices.
- Georgia: I don’t like having to have a notary sign off on the fact I am who I say I am, even though I have been licensed in this state for over 30 years.
- Georgia: Actually lost my job in 2011 because I failed to renew my license by the deadline and went through a reinstatement process that took six months. And I didn't pay attention to the date on my license and had moved prior to the renew date. Georgia doesn't forward mail and didn’t bother to contact me through my employer. We are required to take CEUs, which my employer paid for all that time so I could have been found that way. Still not employed at level prior to 2011.
- Georgia: Stop having us prove our citizenship after we have become a hygienist. Getting forms notarized, scanning photos with forms, etc. It makes you feel like you are getting a license for the first time.
- Illinois: It's only political. It's for the dollars and to moderately keep dental professionals accountable and keep track of who and where they are. That's it.
- Indiana: I would like to receive an active license paper copy. We used to receive it every renewal. We now have only one paper copy that has no expiration date. This is really unfortunate as it does not demonstrate that it is current.
- Maryland: Entering all the info about each CE course is cumbersome and often "times” me out while I'm still entering it. Then I have to log back in and re-enter what I was still filling out.
- Massachusetts: This year, I could have renewed my license online. However, there were problems with the information the board had about me — my date (month) of graduation, for example. I was too nervous to try to correct it, so I simply chose to renew by mail again.
- Michigan: I would like to receive renewal notification about two months before its deadline so I can budget it with my bills.
- Michigan: I was audited this last renewal. The letter I received after submitting my documentation was very vague and alarming in that certain credits didn't qualify. When I spoke to someone on the phone, they didn't agree with the audit. Very confusing to straighten out!
- Ohio: I would like to have the opportunity for more self-study. In Ohio, we need to have a large number of live CE credits. A greater number of self-study credits would be more easily attainable.
- Ohio: The only way the state of Ohio would know if a person lied about CEs obtained would be through an audit. In Ohio, we are to check a box to indicate only that the required CE is completed. I believe people will not always be honest about their reporting.
- Ohio: I always take courses in person as well as online. There are a certain number of hours that require you attend a course in person. I have been audited many times. I know dental hygienists who have never been audited and have never attended a course in person. Nothing against the audit. I believe it is necessary. There should be more renewals with different people audited.
- Washington: Using the online method of renewal costs more money. I tried it last year, and it wasn't working. The system locked up midstream twice until I finally gave up and sent it through the mail. This method is easy if you haven't waited until the last minute.