How Do We Provide Meaningful Experiences to Dental Students at an Interprofessional Clinic?
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center combines interprofessional education (IPE) with comprehensive care to patients with complex medical and dental needs at a non-profit community clinic for the underserved or uninsured population of central Oklahoma. Team-based care is delivered to both medical and dental patients. Our previous models have not allowed collaboration among students of different disciplines. In one model, dental/dental hygiene students were siloed within clinics, treating dental patients exclusively, and interacted infrequently with students of other professions. In an alternative model, patients were seen exclusively for medical needs and dental/dental hygiene students did not provide specific dental interventions, but were merely present for consultation. As a result, dental/dental hygiene students often learned a considerable amount about other disciplines, but other professions rarely had the opportunity to observe dental interventions and lacked optimal exposure to appreciate the roles and responsibilities of dental professionals.
Neither model provided ideal utilization of dental/dental hygiene students nor optimized the interprofessional experience to allow all students to learn with, from, and about each other. A need arose to create a new model that altered the educational strategies to ensure service delivery to dental patients while promoting interprofessional collaboration and supporting teamwork.
The purpose of this solutions-based project was to pilot an active educational model for purposeful inclusion of dental students in the interprofessional team during the IPE clinical experience. The immediate goal was to test methods by which student collaboration could be encouraged between dental and non-dental students. The long-term goal of the project is to determine best methods for interprofessional dental and medical collaboration through clinical curriculum at the community clinic.