Professors from the Fones School of Dental Hygiene presented their recent findings at the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s (ADHA) annual conference.

Fones School of Dental Hygiene Pioneers New Methods

The largest annual event for dental hygienists took place June 16 to 20, 2021, at the convention center in Phoenix, Arizona, where they gathered to receive the latest cutting-edge educational sessions specifically for dental hygienists.

Director of the Fones School Marion Manski, MS, RDH served as a panelist at ADHA’s Educator’s Workshop to discuss how programs around the country managed COVID-19. Along with five other program directors from across the country and a moderator, she discussed how, in the midst of changing parameters and crisis, we the University of Bridgeport moved the entire clinical program online and became very creative on teaching clinical sessions online. Fones was able to graduate the entire class of 2020 and had a 100% pass rate on their manikin clinical boards held in August 2020. The class of 2021 stepped up to the challenge, completing a two-semester clinical course load in one semester, while adapting to COVID protocols and changes. They had no cases of COVID from the clinics. “They really worked hard and succeeded beyond expectations,” says Director Manski.

“Outside the box teaching,” as she calls it, also spurred creativity. One of the changes was the use of manikins for exams, a shift that will stay in place in the future. Others included the use of face shields, N95 mask protocols, and simulations for labs. “We have a great team,” says Manski. “The silver lining is that all the simulations and other ideas will be integrated into regular coursework.”

Associate Professor Susan Miklos, MSDH, BSDH, EFDA presented on the Fones School’s pioneering implementation of the Objective Structure Clinical Examination (OSCE) in the assessment in her Dental Materials class. Manski and Miklos created the poster together. OSCE is an assessment method based on student performance that measures clinical competence. However, it is rarely used in allied dental programs and the goal was to showcase that Fones is utilizing this as dental schools have been doing for many years. That is something the Fones School is trying to change. “It’s a superior method enabling students to obtain a firm grasp and feeling when manipulating the material,” says Manski.

Director Manski also participated in a virtual annual session of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA),  June 5-7 where she serves as Secretary to the Council on Allied Dental Program Directors. There, she presented a poster created by Associate Professor Laura Greco, MSDH, RDH, Professor Wendy Garcia, EdD, RDH and Manski, “Instituting OSCE’s For Assessing Competency in Allied Dental Programs,” again focusing on the need to implement the OSCE. This poster focused on OSCE use in local anesthesia education and was well received.

Miklos, Manski, and Professor Maria Cholewinski also served as Connecticut delegates for the annual ADHA House of Delegates meeting, continuing to influence and transform dental hygiene education on a national level.

It’s a new day for dental hygiene,” says Manski. “We are always trying new things and breaking new ground at Fones and will continue to do so to benefit our students and ultimately our profession.”

Learn more about the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in Dental Hygiene at University of Bridgeport.