OBJECTIVES: This study compares the scope of practice of Dutch dental hygienists (DHs) educated through a 2- or 3-year curriculum ('old-style DHs') with that of hygienists educated through a new extended 4-year curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree ('new-style DHs'), with the aim to investigate whether an extended scope of practice positively affects perceived skill variety, autonomy and job satisfaction.
METHODS: The questionnaires were obtained from old- and new-style DHs (n = 413, response 38%; n = 219, response 59%, respectively), in which respondents had recorded their dental tasks, perceived skill variety, autonomy and job satisfaction. T -tests were used to analyse differences between old- and new-style DHs, and regression analyses were performed to assess the relation between scope of practice and skill variety, autonomy and job satisfaction.
RESULTS: New-style DHs have a more extended scope of practice compared with old-style DHs. Despite their more complex jobs, which are theoretically related to higher job satisfaction, new-style DHs perceive lower autonomy and job satisfaction (P < 0.05). Skill variety is the strongest predictor for DHs' job satisfaction (β = 0.462), followed by autonomy (β = 0.202) and caries decisive tasks, the last affecting job satisfaction negatively (β = -0.149). Self-employment is the strongest significant predictor for autonomy (β = 0.272).
CONCLUSIONS: The core business of DHs remains the prevention and periodontology services. New-style DHs combine these tasks with extended tasks in the caries field, which can lead to comparatively less job satisfaction, because of a lower experienced autonomy in performing these extended tasks.
- clinical competence
- dental hygienists
- education, dental
- job satisfaction
- stress, psychological