Socialization of new dental therapists on entering the profession

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Dental therapy is relatively new in the United States. This qualitative study examines the experiences and impressions of the inaugural class of the first dental school-based dental therapy program in the United States. A grounded theory design using open-ended interviews and focus groups was carried out with the nine students in the class at the beginning of their program and after the fall and spring semesters of their first year. Student responses were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and presented to the students for feedback and clarification. Results show that students started with an idealistic perception of dental therapy that was consistent with the specific provision of the law creating dental therapy. The team learning approach in which dental therapy students learn alongside dental and dental hygiene students provided the social interaction that allowed them to better articulate and distinguish dental therapy from those other dental professions. In the absence of dental therapists who could serve as role models, the program director, who is perceived to be the dental therapy expert, has assumed the role of the primary socializer. Faculty members are challenged to fulfill their role as role models regardless of their perception of the dental therapy model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-632
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Allied dental professionals
  • Dental and dental hygiene students
  • Dental therapy
  • Professional socialization
  • Professionalism
  • Role model

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Socialization of new dental therapists on entering the profession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this