Guidelines for Libraries Serving Dental Hygiene Education Programs
Introduction: Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs
as published by the Commission on Dental Accreditation
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) operates under the administrative auspices of the American Dental Association (ADA). The Commission, which was established by the ADA House of Delegates in 1975, has independent and autonomous responsibilities which "include formulation and adoption of accreditation standards for predoctoral, advanced dental, and allied dental education programs, the accreditation of dental and dental-related educational programs and provision of a means for appeal from adverse decisions of the Commission to a separate and distinct body" (8). The Commission's membership includes a representative of the American Dental Hygienists' Association and other disciplines accredited by the Commission as well as public representatives.
The Commission's "...mission is to ensure the quality of dental and dental-related education by conducting accreditation reviews to determine the degree to which individual programs meet the Commission's published accreditation standards and their own stated goals and objectives..." (8). The Commission's accreditation standards
- serve to protect the public welfare,
- to serve as a guide for dental hygiene program development,
- to serve as a stimulus for the improvement of established programs, and
- to provide criteria for the evaluation of new and established programs.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation publishes standards (often referred to as requirements or guidelines) for each of the educational programs in dentistry and its allied dental specialties. Accreditation standards are developed in consultation with those affected by the standards. Each program director submits a written statement about his/her program to the Commission on Dental Accreditation. This is followed by an on-site visit by assigned consultants. Advisory committees, composed of representatives selected by the specialties; e.g., dental hygiene, and certifying boards, review the site visit and progress reports and make their recommendations to the appropriate standing committees of the Commission. Site visits are made at regular intervals and the accreditation policies and procedures are reviewed by the Commission on a set schedule (8).
"The self-study is the principal component of the process by which the Commission on Dental Accreditation carries out its program of accrediting dental and dental-related educational programs. The self-study is intended to involve all the communities within the institution in an internal examination of the ways in which the institution and its programs meet its own stated purposes and the accreditation standards approved by the Commission" (8). It is designed to lead an institution through an appraisal and analysis of its education programs to determine If the institution is meeting its own stated goals and objectives and is in compliance with the relevant CDA accreditation standards (8).
The self-study guides developed by the Commission for the various dental and allied dental education programs ask that the institution gather information about specific areas of the institution, such as administration, financial resources and facilities, faculty and staff, curriculum, and research; the self-study also requests that the institution make an assessment of its compliance with its own stated goals and objective and with each of the listed "must" statements from the relevant accreditation standard. The data are gathered together and the findings and recommendations are reported to the Commission in a "coherent self-study report." The completed report helps to "demonstrate to both the institutional personnel and the visiting [Commission] committee [during a scheduled site visit to the institution] that the program is...meeting its own goals and the Accreditation Standards or that the analysis indicates that specified improvements could and/or should be made" (8).
Accordingly, to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a dental hygiene program must meet the standards set forth in its publication, Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs. These standards are national in scope and represent the minimum requirements for accreditation.
The Commission has the ultimate responsibility for determining a program's accreditation status. The Commission looks at such things as institutional commitment, program director(s) and teaching staff, facilities and resources, curriculum and program duration, eligibility and selection, affiliations, and student evaluation.
Accreditation standards (requirements or guidelines) for libraries are published in the Commission's accreditation document Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs, approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation on December 5, 1991, and implemented on January 1, 1993. For purposes of clarification, selected relevant "must" and summary statements from the Accreditation Standards are reprinted below. The "must" statement of each relevant accreditation standard appears immediately following the header; its summary statement (indented) provides an explanation or elucidation of the standard. The explanation describes the Commission's interpretation of the "must" statement and indicates how the Commission applies the standard in the evaluation process.
Standard 9: Learning Resources
A wide range of printed materials and instructional aids and equipment must be available for utilization by students and faculty.
9.1 Library: Institutional library holdings must include or provide access to a diversified collection of current dental, dental hygienve, and multidisciplinary literature and references necessary to support teaching, student learning needs, service, research, and development.
Current and back issues of major scientific and professional journals related to dentistry and dental hygiene must be available for student and faculty reference. Back issues of major scientific and professional journals covering at least the past five years is considered sufficient for providing a review of current dental literature.
Current, specialized reference texts must be available. There must be a mechanism for dental hygiene faculty to periodically review and select current titles for acquisition.
Facilities, hours, and policies should be conducive to faculty and student use of the library. Budget provisions should be made to ensure the currency of learning resources.
9.2 Instructional Resources: Instructional aids and equipment must be available to support student learning needs.
8. Commission on Dental Accreditation. Self-study guide for the evaluation of a dental education program in the United States. Chicago, IL: Commission on Dental Accreditation, 1991. [March 1986; revised December 1991.]