The aim of this study was to describe the compatibility of dental hygienist education with working life from the perspective of their educators.
We conducted a qualitative study among principal educators of dental hygienists in Finland in 2012-2013. The participants were leading educators of dental hygienists (n = 13) from the four Finnish education units. We used semi-structured interviews based on previous Nordic studies to collect the data and analysed them using inductive content analysis.
According to the educators, dental hygienists’ skills at work are neither fully nor effectively utilized, even though their education meets the needs of working life quite well. The educators felt that hygienists’ professional competence would prove more useful in health promotion and orthodontic measures and that the division of labour should be clearer. Clarifying this distinction in periodontal therapy could be improved.
Fully utilizing dental hygienists’ competence in clinical work would benefit from further development. The content of dental hygienists’ clinical work should be reassessed so as to utilize their skills more fully. The compatibility of dental hygienist education corresponds largely to the needs of future working life.