Date of Award



© 2020 Daniela M. Taranto

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Third Advisor

Lynn Marsh


The focus of this phenomenological study is to evaluate the lived experiences of recent dental hygiene graduates’ as they relate to their curriculum preparation as clinicians. Individual interviews of ten newly graduated hygienists were conducted, consisting of seventeen open-ended questions related to their experience with feeling prepared to enter the workforce specific to their clinical skills, professionalism skills, and critical thinking skills. This study documented the experiences these participants had as they transitioned from master student, to novice clinician specific to their newly acquired skills. A positive perception of preparedness was found directly to their instrumentation, professionalism, and critical thinking skills. All participants acknowledged the benefits of having many applied learning experiences in clinic, and in their laboratory courses as being contributive to their confidence in their clinical skills. Variation was evident to specific dental tasks such as; radiographs, where 90% (Participants 1,2,4-10) felt prepared to enter the work force with their skills, and the remaining with a need to further develop.

It was reported that an increase in experiences led to an increase in confidence in participants’ instrumentation, and critical thinking skills. Whereby being exposed to a variety of patients allowed participants to apply what they learned in the program, to their new role as a novice clinician. Participants experienced confidence in their ability to be successful on their written and clinical board examinations. Personal weaknesses were revealed during their new positions, specifically in production-based practices, where their inability to perform specific dental hygiene related tasks left them feeling ill-equipped in their new role.

Bandura’s self-efficacy model, the framework for this study was selected because all of the four sources of self-efficacy; Performance Accomplishment, Vicarious Experience, Verbal Persuasion, and Emotional Arousal, not only contribute to student confidence in their new skills, they are also very present in the dental hygiene curriculum.


Ed.D. Dissertation