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Lots of people all over the World were having trouble in maintaining oral health. That’s the reason why healthcare professionals were needed for the prevention and treatment of some oral diseases including the teeth and gums. Most importantly such oral health professional must be licensed to prevent medical maltreatments that are dangerous to patients. According to Martin (2007) a dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare professional focusing on providing dental care.
The main aim of a hygienist usually covers the recording of medical histories of patient including pulse rate and blood pressure. They also do cleaning of teeth, applying sealants, conducting fluoride treatments, educating patients’ good oral hygiene practices and assisting with X rays. Currently, it was estimated that there are 250 dental hygiene programs and almost 100,000 active hygienists in the United States. In the United States, before a licensed dental hygienist can start their practice in other jurisdiction they should undergo an agreement called reciprocity.
According to Mosby’s Dental Dictionary, 2nd edition (2008) reciprocity is defined as a mutual agreement involving two governing bodies to be able for a licensed dental professional in either jurisdiction can exchange privileges, dependence and relationships. Some States like Delaware, Ohio, Nebraska, Tennessee and Indiana were implementing licensure by reciprocity.
Each of these has different requirements. In Delaware, if a hygienist is presently licensed in another state and had worked 3 of the last 5 years, one may apply for licensure by reciprocity.
If these conditions are not attained one must take the Delaware Practical Examination in Dental Hygiene. Also a dental hygienist must submit some credentials including accomplished and notarized application, pro-rated processing fee by money order or check payable to the “State of Delaware”, certified transcript of records as proof of graduation from a Board-accepted dental hygiene program directly sent from school to the Office of the Board. One must have a score report showing at least 75% competency level in the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination.
A dental hygienist must also submit a copy of current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification card, reference letters from past or current employers regarding moral character and reputation, authentication letters from state currently residing, or have ever been licensed and resume showing work experiences for the last five years. If one has a criminal record, bring a copy of criminal record from the State Bureau of Identification. Lastly, bring W2 forms from 3 of the last 5 years showing evidence of work in a dental setting.
If ever the Board approved the application, one must successfully pass the Delaware Jurisprudence Written Examination (Delaware Professional Regulation 2008). According to Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4715 Paragraph 27 Reciprocity (2001) the state dental board gives a license to an applicant who had completed satisfactory evidence of being at least 18 years of age, with good moral character and one who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the board knowledge of laws, rules and regulations governing dental hygiene practice.
The applicant should also intend to only practice as a dental hygienist in the state. Candidates should also be a graduate of an accredited dental hygiene school and holds a license from similar dental board and most importantly passed an examination by the dental hygiene board. After payment of fifty-eight dollars and upon endorsed application by a certified dental hygiene school in a state, the dental board may issue a teacher’s certificate that gives authorization to practice in another state even without examination.
The teacher’s certificate is further subjected to annual renewal according to the standard procedure of renewal of sections 4745. 01 to 4745. 03 of the Revised Code, and shall not be authorized with anything other than educating or demonstrating skills of a dental hygienist in the programs of accredited dental hygiene school which endorsed the application. Another state allowing licensure by reciprocity is Nebraska.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Resources (2007), to be able to be qualified for reciprocity, the applicant should be a graduate from a certified school or College of Dentistry, passed the licensure examination Part I and II given by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations with a score of 75 or higher on each part of the test, passed a jurisprudence examination relating to the laws governing dentistry with a score of 75% and higher.
The applicant should also passed the examination requiring the demonstration of the applicant’s skill in clinical dentistry and have actively engaged in the practice of dentistry in an accepted residency or graduate training program for at least 3 years. One must also provide proof of 15 hours continuing education meeting the criteria for Board approval during the 12 month period before the date of licensure application and lastly, attained at least the age of majority and have a good moral character. The State of Tennessee also has its own requirement regarding licensure by reciprocity.
According to the Rules of Tennessee Board of Dentistry Chapter 0460-3 about the practice of dental hygienists (2007), the applicant should get a Board application form from the Board’s Administrative Office. After accomplishment of the form, an interview will be conducted to prove that the content of the form is definitely true and the applicant must submit it with all documentation and fees required to the Board’s Administrative Office prior to filing a licensure application. The applicant must submit a certificate of graduation with the official seal of the college or university.
The certificate must contain the transcript, degree and diploma conferred. Proof of successful completion of the National Board examination from the American Dental Association should be submitted to the Board Administrative Office if the person graduated after 1972. The applicant should also pass a proof of being at least 18 years of age, a signed recent “passport” style picture, evidence of good moral character, and proof of American or Canadian Citizenship including birth certificate, naturalization papers or current visa status.
A licensure application fee and state regulatory fee should also be submitted. Only that person without criminal law violation except minor traffic violations can be given a license. The applicant should not been accused of any civil suit judgment regarding malpractice, breach of contract and antitrust activity in the pass. The candidate should also pass the dental hygiene licensure examination; submit evidence of training in CPR given by a Board-certified training organization. Possession of an active and current license with good standing in at least one state is another requirement.
The Board also provides a form that should contain a professional resume of the applicant to be submitted. Satisfactory evidence must be submitted to the Board including an active, full-time, licensed practice of dental hygiene in a private office, or a post-graduate study or in service as a faculty member for three of the five years before application. Temporary absences during employment covering the three year period will not be treated as a disqualification factor by the Board.
To be qualified for licensure, an applicant should not fail any Board-approved examination. Indiana is another state which allows license by reciprocity. According to the Office of Code Revision Indiana Legislative Services Agency (2008), issuance of license by the board should be done upon payment of fee by a candidate who shows satisfactory evidence. As required by the State, the applicant should be a dental hygienist presently licensed in other states having license requirements equivalent to those in effect in Indiana on the date of application.
The candidate should be in good practice for at least two years out of five years before application, passed the law examination, and completed fourteen hours of continuing education in the previous two years. If an applicant graduated before September 1, 1987 from a school recognized by the board when the degree was conferred and trained for 1 year and has completed one year of internship in a dental clinic or hospital, one year of teaching after graduation in a school for dental hygienists or five years of actual dental hygienist practice may apply for licensure if all requirements are met.
There are other American States that allows licensure by reciprocity but only few were mentioned in this research paper. Reciprocity is needed to be implemented in order to prevent illegal dental hygienist from practicing to other States. It can also help protect people from dental malpractice that are harmful to their health. The presentation of substantial evidences to the State Board of Dentistry can help them analyze who among the applicants for licensure really deserve for the privilege of practicing dental hygiene to other State.