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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring levels of interest and barriers to pursuing further education among Canadian dental hygienists Katyal, Shivalika


Background: Given the rise in chronic diseases, the World Health Organization states that building abilities of the health care workforce has become increasingly important to meet the complex needs of the public in the twenty-first century. Canada has seen a growing movement towards creating new pathways to further dental hygienists’ education to the baccalaureate level. The entry-to-practice credential for dental hygiene in Canada has remained a diploma. According to the 2021 Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) Job Market and Employment survey, only 27% of respondents earned a bachelor’s degree. Existing literature explored motivating influences for pursuing degree education and practice outcomes associated with further education. However, a deepened exploration of barriers to pursuing additional education for Canadian dental hygienists is necessary. Objective: This project examined the levels of interest in and barriers to pursuing further education among Canadian dental hygienists who practised with a diploma as their highest educational credential. Methods: E-focus groups were held to inform the construction of the online national survey. The online survey was distributed to CDHA members. The survey collected demographic information, levels of interest, and barriers to pursuing further education. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS version 28.0 software and qualitative data using Saldaña’s approach of assigning descriptive and in-vivo coding. Results: Of 918 dental hygiene respondents, 553 (60%) expressed an interest in pursuing further education. Barriers to pursuing further education included: time (56%), finances (53%), family commitments (51%), work responsibilities (48%), stress/anxiety of returning to school (40%), accessibility to education (34%), unfamiliarity with existing programs (34%), not being aware of eligibility (32%), competitive application process (27%), employer support (25%), family support (18%), completing online courses/using technology is intimidating (18%), and lack of reliable internet service (13%). Levels of interest and barriers to pursuing further education were compared with survey demographic data to identify associations. Majority of respondents (92%) indicated perceived benefits to pursuing further education. Conclusion: Barriers were identified in both the e-focus groups and online survey. National and provincial associations, and educational institutions can use the results to help reduce barriers and raise awareness for post-diploma education for Canadian dental hygienists.

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