Hygienists support CE reporting system, but they are unsure if the public benefits

July 20, 2015
Dental hygienists reported very few problems in fulfilling continuing education requirements in an RDH eVillage survey, although there was no clear majority opinion on whether “consumers in your state receive a higher level of dental care as a result of the required continuing education requirements.”

Dental hygienists reported very few problems in fulfilling continuing education requirements in an RDH eVillage survey, although there was no clear majority opinion on whether “consumers in your state receive a higher level of dental care as a result of the required continuing education requirements.”

Forty-one percent of the 272 dental hygienists participating in the national survey said patients do benefit from required professional education after graduation from dental hygiene schools. However, a third (33%) believe that CE credits do not necessarily improve patient care, and a quarter (26%) were “uncertain.”

A Georgia hygienist commented, “Find a better way to ensure that those receiving the credits actually attended the course. I see too many people come into meetings during the last 10 minutes just to write down the course code.”

An Arizona hygienist criticized the quality of CE courses. “We need classes that really mean better care for patients. We don't have that now. Classes are a waste of time.”

A Texas hygienist pointed out that cost is a factor in quality continuing education. “All the good CE courses are too expensive.”

Sixty percent of the hygienists responding to the survey estimate they earn under 20 hours of CE credits per calendar year. Another 30% said they complete 20 to 30 hours of continuing education every year, and 7% said they report 31 or more hours on an annual basis.


The RDH eVillage survey referred to in this article questioned dental hygienists about licensure, CE reporting, and state dental boards. To read the first article about the survey, click here.


The paperwork on reporting CE is “very easy” or “reasonably easy,” according to 75% of the respondents. Only 17% said it was a “hassle” to file the information with their state regulatory agency.


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Most hygienists are also content with the time windows for earning required continuing education in their states.

Two-thirds of the dental hygienists indicated they have “never” been audited after reporting CE credits. Twenty percent said they have been audited once, 5% have been audited twice, and 3% have been audited three or more times.

A hygienist wrote, “I was audited on my Georgia license one year. Reporting all CEs with the required paperwork was a major hassle, especially since I had over 45 hours to report.”

The survey respondents were invited to submit comments about continuing education requirements, and selected comments appear below.

  • Report CE online. Have courses closer to home. Fewer courses apply to my everyday working environment.
  • The units should be automatically reported to the agency so there would be no need to be audited. You could look up your units and track them easily, and the agency would know you had completed your requirements.
  • I don't get paid for my CEs, and some of them are out of my price range.
  • I wish I could take all of the 20 credits online at home instead of spending 10 hours in a lecture hall.
  • I would change it to required reporting. With so many online resources, I think it could be entered in a database as each course is taken. I don't think it would have to be cost prohibitive. I believe it could be done in a way similar to the way that I report my golf scores for my official handicap!
  • Discounted fees for renewals. We are already paying to take the CE, so the renewal fee should be just for administrative purposes. No more than $50.
  • I think all of it should be done away with except for CPR. Most of the CE courses are geared strictly to sell products.
  • I wish online live courses were accredited for all state license renewal. Traveling to a live class is expensive and time consuming if you don't live in a city that offers courses.
  • I would like to attend events that are interesting for me but I am not able to because of time discrepancies. All the CE credits that I earn are done online.
  • Only audit the courses from the past year instead of two years ago or three years ago.
  • Turn the responsibility of reporting back on the CE providers' shoulders rather than having us go through the hassle of having to report the hours ourselves.
  • CE should be more valuable to providing better treatment for my patients, not just a requirement that has to be filled.
  • I would like an online database where each CE class taken could be registered. It would help practitioners keep track of all classes (no wrinkled paper slips to lose) and the state would know for certain exactly if the required hours have been met.
  • Let people choose how they want to renew, and offer more opportunities of classes for CEUs rather than just at state dental convention.
  • Kansas recently added an ethics requirement every two years, but the courses are hard to find. If they require it, they should make it easier for us to attend one.
  • All of the required credits should be obtainable online vs. only a portion of allowable online hours. I learn much more in an online course, whether that be a webcast or written course, than I do in a course I must physically attend. It's much more convenient to attend a course online, and I would probably acquire more credits if they were all allowed to be from online courses.
  • Colorado has just passed requiring continuing education by dentists and hygienists to begin in the next renewal cycle in 2016. Reporting CEs will not be required. There will be a random audit conducted, and each person is required to keep track of their own CEUs.
  • Texas just asks if you have completed them. I think you should have to enter your CE codes as proof.
  • There is still a loophole in continuing education where people just show up at the end of the course to receive the code because that's when they know it will be announced.
  • Dental professionals should actually be required to submit their CE! I know many RDHs in my state that do not keep up with CE credits yet are still allowed to practice because they have never been audited.
  • Get rid of required courses such as tobacco education, handwashing, etc. It seems to be a futile attempt to make behaviorial changes.