Ann Arbor, MI — January 28, 2016 — The University of Michigan School of Dentistry has a long-established history of providing oral health care to residents across Michigan through its Community-Based Dental Education (CBDE) program which sends dental and dental hygiene students to 26 sites in 24 cities and towns across Michigan.
Dr. Bill Piskorowski, assistant dean for CBDE and clinical associate professor in the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics at the School of Dentistry, says students participating in CBDE “have an opportunity participate in interprofessional care (IPC) and to apply what they have learned in dental school to a real world setting, supervised by local oral health care professionals, to help those who are in need.”
One of the sites is the Hamilton Community Health Network facility at 225 E. Fifth Street in Flint, Michigan. Since January 2013, School of Dentistry students have been traveling to the Hamilton clinic to provide oral health care to area residents. Students travel to the clinic 38 to 40 weeks during the academic year. Dr. Miriam Parker, director of dental services, is grateful for the extra dental care the students deliver.
Fourth-year dental student Kelly Crenna says she values her experiences in Flint.
“All of our patients are very grateful for what we are doing at the Hamilton clinic. Many of them are seeing a dentist for the first time, mostly because of an emergency need. By the end of their appointment, they want to make the Hamilton Community Health Network their dental home,” she says.
Crenna adds, “This would be a great clinic to work at after graduation. I am learning a lot and learning fast because of the volume and variety of patients I see. It is also a very rewarding type of dentistry.”
Piskorowski adds the school’s outreach efforts are playing an important part in the University of Michigan’s interprofessional education (IPE) initiative. The School of Dentistry and the School of Nursing are working together and sending their students to Flint to provide dental and medical care to area residents. Leading that effort are Drs. Howard Hamerink and Mark Fitzgerald.
“This is the first true interprofessional care clinical immersion experience where actually treating patients is the focus,” says Hamerink. “From this experience, we hope to learn how we should train future students in an interprofessional care environment for what they will experience in the future.”
Providing oral health and medical care is helping students from seven U-M schools and colleges break down the traditional silos that have separated health professions by creating opportunities for collaborative and engaged learning that will help them better understand the complex nature of health care and the interrelationships between dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, public health and kinesiology.