Looking Back to Move Ahead: Interprofessional Education in Dental Education
The Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education defines interprofessional education (IPE) as “when two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to improve collaboration and quality of care.” Dentistry has been removed from medicine for years, this has led the public to view dentistry as an option rather than a necessity for health. An article published February 2017 in the Journal of Dental Education interviewed leaders of dental programs to assess strengths and weaknesses of interprofessional education in dental education.1
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has to standards that relate directly with IPE. The first, standard 1-9 states “The dental school must show evidence of interaction with other components of the higher education, health care education, and/or health care delivery system.” The second standard, 2-19 states “Graduates must be competent in communicating and collaborating with other members of the health care team to facilitate the provision of health care.” Both of these standards encourage the implementation of IPE in dental schools.
Letty Moss-Salentijn, vice dean for curricular innovation and interprofessional education at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine stated the Interprofessional Teamwork course that focuses on IPE offered at Columbia remains a “prestigious and sought-after experience.” The course continues to expand and currently includes physical and occupational therapy, social work, and representatives from the chaplaincy. Moss-Salentijn stated the course has helped dental students to no longer perceive dentistry as a solitary career, instead they view it as a “critical member of the health care team.” She goes on to state the weakness and enemy of the course is time. This is due to complex and competing schedules among the different disciplines. Though it has obstacles, Moss-Salentijn has high hopes and states, regarding the future of the course is that it “grows until it doesn’t exist anymore. I want us to not have to call IPE by a special name because it is so common that it is the culture of all our programs.”
Venita Sposetti, associate dean for education at the University of Florida (UF) College of Dentistry described the initiation of their IPE program as a spin off from a one-day substance abuse symposium in 1995. The IPE program at UF is called “Putting Families First” (PFF). The program collaborates with students from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, and veterinary medicine in addition to dentistry to allow three to four home visits to develop health plans for families. In addition to interprofessional education, this program also offers students insight into diversity of the community. UF’s proud to integrate medical and dental students into a microbiology course to discuss early childhood caries, allowing both disciplines to observe the ways their separate areas overlap to improve patient health.
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus’s IPE program extends from the first year to the fourth year of dental school, it includes two semesters of didactic coursework followed by standard patient simulation and clinical integration. The emphasis on IPE has allowed students to collaborate and make patient=-centered care the goal.
Dr. Judith Buchanan, professor emeritus and former director of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s IPE center stated the most challenging aspect of the program was securing facilities for clinical IPE for the eight academic programs involved as well as when classes could be offered to accommodate all the students. Though faced with obstacles she concluded by stating, “Students are the biggest change leaders in any educational system. If they find it [IPE] valuable, they will make it happen. We just have to make it valuable.”
Students at the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina all participate in a course titled: Transforming Health are for the Future during the fall semester of their first year. The course is mandatory for dentistry, health professions, nursing and pharmacy. There are two visionary initiatives led by Amy Martin, director of the Division of Population Health in the College of Dental Medicine. These two programs allow dental students to gain research and clinical experience utilizing interprofessional collaboration to reduce health disparities in rural communities. The two programs are titled The Rural Oral Health Advancement in Delivery Systems (ROADS) and Rural Oral Health Advancements and Delivery Through Interprofessional (ROADTRIP). She states she has witnessed an increase in interest of university leaders to integrate oral health education into systemic health education.
Elizabeth Andrews, associate dean for academic affairs at Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine describes the IPE program as four case-based courses in the first two years of dental school and one team-based experience during their third year. These courses integrate students and faculty from physical therapy, pharmacy, medicine and optometry. She goes on to describe a rotation in dental clinic for family medicine residents which focuses on dental diagnosis and treatment. She goes on to discuss how this has helped medical students “close the loop on the critical role dentistry plays in oral and systemic health for patients.”
In a 2014 ADEA IPE survey, it was determined that 90% of responding dental schools offer some type of IPE. The majority (80%) offered small-group exercises, many offered community service-learning experiences. The majority of schools focused on team skills. The major barriers noted in the survey schedules (43.5%) and funding (25%), scheduling and time limitations was mentioned by almost all responding schools.
The authors conclude, “Dentistry has an opportunity through IPE to shape the narrative of why and how oral health is critical for wellness and the role of dentistry plays in supporting it. It is now time for us to leverage that role. IPE provides a springboard into conversations about tomorrow’s health care environment, and we need to ensure that dentistry and dental education are a part of them.”
Did you attend a school that provided IPE courses/programs? Do you think this would help bridge the gap between medicine and dentistry? Have you reached out to other health care providers to collaborate on care of a patient?
- Hamil LM. Looking Back to Move Ahead: Interprofessional Education in Dental Education. J Dent Educ. 2017 Aug;81(8):eS74-eS80. doi: 10.21815/JDE.017.010. PMID: 28765458.