Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Chandran Achutan, PhD, CIH

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Lyden, MS

Third Committee Member

Patrick Wortmann, MPH, CHMM


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how hospitals and healthcare academic programs operate. This change has restricted services provided as well as educational opportunities for those training to be in healthcare. Further, personal protective equipment (PPE) has been required to help protect workers potentially having contact with patients who may have COVID-19. Dentistry workers are at particularly high risk due to repeated and continuous aerosol generating procedures. Healthcare students have traditionally been restricted to areas with minimal risk during clinical experiences; however, with the exposure occurring ubiquitously, avoiding the risk is nearly impossible. There is no uniform inclusion of students in respiratory protection programs within medical colleges currently; this limits knowledge surrounding perceptions of safety and application of safety behaviors by this population. To address this gap, we performed a cross-sectional study using a population of recently fit-tested dentistry students to gauge if safety perceptions change before and after being fit tested with N95 respirators. Sixty-five students completed pre- and post- fit testing for N95 personal respirators questionnaires. Over half of the participants (n=41) responded that their perception of safety changed from pre-fit testing to post-fit testing. All participants (n=65) responded that they knew how to wear an N95 respirator after fit testing. There was no significance found between pre- and post- fit responses on additional paired questions (p=0.313 and p=0.131). This data supports that fit testing for N95 respirators alters safety perceptions in this population and demonstrates the need to educate students regarding exposures in their educational environment.

Included in

Public Health Commons