Penn Dental Medicine has new plans to develop an innovative postdoctoral training program in general dentistry, tailored for primary dentistry, that will help educate dental residents in basic dental care for marginalized and vulnerable patients. The School has received $2.1 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the next five years to support its new Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program. Through additional funding provided by the HRSA, the plan expands on our existing efforts at Penn Dental Medicine to provide treatment for vulnerable and underserved patients in Philadelphia, which is particularly focused on disadvantaged populations with persisting oral health inequalities, as Division Chief of Restorative Dentistry and Principal Investigator for the award, Dr. David Hershkowitz said. To ensure that program graduates will have the enhanced knowledge, skills, and experiences to better serve this demographic, we have made this our goal.
Residents in the AEGD program are expected to be employed at two of the School’s community-based sites. They will work at the federally qualified health center (FQHC) at Penn Dental Medicine at Sayre, which has a four-chair dental care center, and the third location will be the federally qualified health center (FQHC) at Penn Dental Medicine at Puentes de Salud, serving the Latino immigrant community, where Penn Dental Medicine provides primary dental care inside a three-chair facility.
Both dental residents and students will complete clinical dental treatment at the Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, and in the school’s clinical dentistry program for Survivors of Torture, both of which are part of the Penn Dental Medicine’s soon-to-open Care Center for Persons with Disabilities. In addition to helping patients by offering state-of-the-art dental treatment, our commitment to supporting vulnerable groups also provides a platform for teaching dedicated oral health professionals. This is especially true for our AEGD residents, who will be taught by the Program in Clinical Restorative Dentistry’s Dr. Olivia Sheridan, Associate Professor of Clinical Restorative Dentistry, and the Dr. Rebecca Brinkman, Senior Associate Dean of Clinical Education, who is also a Survivor of Torture. The advanced education program will be built on compassionate dental graduates’ capacity to meet the dental needs of people who have disabilities, and this program will set the standard for providing advanced education for this group.
The process will begin in July 2020 and go until June 2022, during which time Penn Dental Medicine will put the program in place and seek for accreditation with the Commission on Dental Accreditation. One student is expected to be admitted to the one-year program each year starting in July 2022, and the class is planned to begin in July 2022. To better serve the clients of the program, the program is expected to teach information, skills, and clinical experiences in cultural competence and health literacy, says Dr. Joan Gluch, the division chief of community oral health and a program faculty member. To make progress on both the quality of treatment received by patients and making a significant effect on vulnerable and disadvantaged populations’ access to health care, we will evaluate program results as well as establish procedures for assessing these two dimensions.