A qualitative assessment of dental hygiene educators’ COVID-19 related burnout

Michelle C. Arnett, Vidya Ramaswamy, Sarah Snay, Elizabeth Evans, Danielle Rulli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to elicit ideas or concerns influencing dental hygiene educators’ experiences of personal and professional burnout, burnout working with students, and teaching efficacy in an online/hybrid environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A qualitative, content-analysis study included a convenience sample of dental hygiene educators emails. An invitation to participate in an August 2021 or October 2021 focus group was sent via Qualtricsxm with informed consent, and focus groups were held over Zoom. Conversations were audio recorded, transcribed, and de-identified. Consensus on a codebook by two coders achieved an 88% agreement. Results: Fifty-three were invited to the August 2021 focus groups for a 26% (n = 14) response rate, and 116 were invited to the October 2021 focus groups for an 11% (n = 13) response rate. Contributing factors to experiences of burnout expressed were: (1) work–life balance (n = 59), including (a) overwork, (b) pressure to be available, and (c) lack of boundaries; (2) change (n = 34) involving (a) developing new protocols, (b) constant uncertainty, (c) COVID-19 requirements, and (d) new platforms; and (3) negative interactions (n = 32) with (a) students and (b) faculty. Conclusion: A lack of work–life balance from overwork, pressure to be available at all times, no boundaries with students, and an absence of a sense of connection for workplace vitality were contributors to burnout. Work-from-home flexibility, a work environment that supported wellness and mental well-being, and the ability to leave the workplace for periods of time were reported as helpful solutions to combatting burnout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1448-1458
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Dental Education published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Dental Education Association.


  • COVID-19
  • faculty burnout


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