Mentor Advice ForumCategory: QuestionsWhy isn't there a national clinical exam that can be accepted by all the states in the US?
Cortney asked 5 years ago

I’m a hygienist and I have lived in many different states. I cringe each time I think about licensing in a new state because a lot of states make it so difficult. I can understand taking a jurisprudence exam on laws of the state, but I don’t understand why a clinical exam needs to be retaken, especially after practicing for several years. My question is why isn’t there a national clinical exam that can be accepted by all the states in the US, like the national written exam is? It would make things so much easier for people who are on the move like me!

1 Answers
Tammy Filipiak, RDH, MS Staff answered 5 years ago

The discussion around portability of licensure has been one that has surfaced time and again. The regional testing agencies are not under the “umbrella” of ADHA and in my opinion can be confusing for some dental hygienists who may wonder why this is not changing. Individual states set their criteria through statutes on what is required for licensure and anecdotally I have noticed that many have become more accepting of other regional boards. I contacted Pam Steinbach, RN, MS, ADHA’s Director of Education & Research, for her input. Here is her reply: Thanks for reaching out to ADHA. Regional and state clinical dental hygiene examinations are administered to evaluate the clinical competency of candidates for dental hygiene licensure. Licensure is granted by each individual state based on the requirements of individual state dental practice acts. Clinical examinations provide a reliable third party assessment of candidates’ clinical skills and are used by state dental boards in making valid licensing decisions. All exams consist of skill-specific patient treatment in a clinical setting. Additionally, some exams include a written or electronic patient-based component. Clinical licensure exams are administered at various times throughout the year at various host institutions. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association has existing policy that supports research to identify and implement a valid, reliable alternative to the use of human subjects in clinical licensure examinations for candidates who are graduates of accredited dental hygiene programs and who are eligible to take the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination. ADHA has a number of resources related to licensure on our website, including an annually updated overview of regional and state dental hygiene clinical examinations. ADHA also supports our members interests at the local, state and federal levels by making sure that legislators and decision makers are aware of our positions on licensure and practice issues.