Innovation and Evaluation of an Interprofessional Pediatric Dental Curriculum
Caries is the most common chronic (preventable) disease in children. Substantial disparities in children’s oral health and access to comprehensive oral health services exist throughout California and the US. There is still a need to increase the ability of primary care providers to care for the needs of all patients, especially the ones with special needs and address the social determinants of oral health. Action is needed by primary care providers to expand access to quality oral health care and improve preventive oral health knowledge/skills among caregivers. The purpose of the Strategic Partnership for Interprofessional Collaborative Education in Pediatric Dentistry (SPICE-PD) residency curriculum is to effectively prepare dentists and primary care providers to address disparities in prenatal and children’s oral health. The need for interprofessional training and collaboration is critical to ensure different health care providers are engaged and prepared to address the oral health needs of underserved/vulnerable populations through a family centered approach.
Goals of SPICE-PD include:
A) Establish an Integrated Oral and Primary Healthcare Clinical Training Program for Pediatric Dental, General Dental, Pediatric Medicine, and Nursing Programs.
B) Enhance curriculum to prepare pediatric dentists to provide care for underserved and special needs groups and communities in the evolving field of dentistry.
C) Enhance training in dental public health and population health management for pediatric and general dental residents through a partnership with the UCLA School of Public Health.
Between 2010-2015 Dr. Ramos-Gomez developed and implemented the SPICE-PD curriculum. This innovative interprofessional curriculum covers 9 training modules including disease management & risk assessment, policy & advocacy, community partners, quality improvement, and children with special needs. It includes cross-training for pediatric medical residents, pediatric nurse practitioner students, and general dental residents. In collaboration with the UCLA School of Public Health, SPICE-PD successfully sponsored at total of 19 of our dental residents to earn an MPH degree. We have developed a comprehensive evaluation framework for this project that includes surveys, interviews, clinical data, and skills acquisitions.
Evaluation data (N=210) showed that 81% strongly agreed/agreed that SPICE PD provided important perspectives on oral health that they did NOT receive elsewhere in their graduate education; and 77% reported the program prepared them well to address oral health needs of vulnerable populations. And 95% (N=179) strongly agreed/agreed an interprofessional approach to oral health enhances patient care.
Through our innovative curriculum we successfully created a SPICE PD cohort of 352 alumni (including pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, general dentists and 19 DDS/MPH graduates) who are trained and committed to providing preventive oral health services to underserved families/children. Results indicate that SPICE-PD contributes to creating a culturally competent oral health workforce who is responsive and empathetic to the needs of all children and ultimately contributes to decreasing childhood caries rates. This innovative curriculum represents the future of oral health, early intervention and dental disease management, and sets a new standard of comprehensive, integrated, widely accessible and evidence-based oral health care emphasizing prevention.