State Board of Dentistry Identifies Acceptable Alternative to Live Patient Clinical Exam for Dental Hygienist Candidates During COVID-19
February 5, 2021
For years, individuals seeking to become licensed dentists and dental hygienists in Pennsylvania have had to pass licensing exams that include a clinical component where they must demonstrate certain dental skills on a live patient.
On April 23, 2020, Governor Wolf approved the Department of State's request to suspend the requirement that the clinical examination occur on a live patient during the COVID-19 pandemic for individuals seeking to become licensed dentists. The waiver allowed the State Board of Dentistry to accept the American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) non-patient-based restorative dentistry examination administered by the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment (CDCA) and the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA) for the 2020 administration of the examination.
Due to the continued state of emergency, this waiver was extended to the 2021 administration of the examination.
At the time the April 23, 2020, waiver was issued, the State Board of Dentistry determined that the ADEX Manikin (non-patient) Examination for dental hygienists was not developed enough to adequately test a candidate's clinical skills. Instead, the waiver included a suspension of the requirement that the clinical examination for dental hygienists occur on a live patient and provided for the issuance of provisional licenses to dental hygienist candidates who otherwise satisfied the requirements for licensure.
As 2020 progressed and the pandemic continued, the CDCA improved their administration of the ADEX Manikin Examination for dental hygienists. One of the many enhancements to the 2021 examination administration is a two-part, non-patient clinical examination, with the first part consisting of a computer-simulated clinical examination and the second part an objective, structured clinical examination.
The board undertook a review of the improved version of the ADEX Manikin Examination administration and determined that it accomplishes − through a demonstration of cognitive reasoning and applied judgment to case scenarios − a more thorough evaluation of a candidate's knowledge than one which merely requires the identification of a correct choice. Therefore, the board concluded that for the duration of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Declaration (and for an additional 90 days thereafter), the ADEX Manikin Examination for dental hygienists is a viable alternative to the live patient examination.
The live-patient aspect of the dental hygiene clinical examination shall continue to be temporarily waived. For those candidates who wish to take an alternative exam, the board will now accept the ADEX Manikin Examination for dental hygienists administered by CDCA and CITA in 2021 in lieu of issuing a provisional license to candidates for licensure.
Candidates who already have a provisional license issued pursuant to the April 23, 2020, waiver must take a clinical examination within six (6) months of the date of this waiver.
The board retains the authority to accept any other non-live-patient dental hygiene clinical examination offered by the other regional examining bodies, provided that the board finds it to be psychometrically sound, valid, reliable and legally defensible.