The community practice at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) has expanded with extended hours and a modified practice model to serve the dental needs of local residents in Upper Manhattan.
The community practice launched with pediatric services in November 2020 and has since grown to encompass general dentistry, periodontics, and restorative services. It operates several evenings a week and two Saturdays a month in CDM’s existing clinical spaces.
“The demand from the community has been pretty strong, especially for our Saturday clinic days,” said Aaron Myers, DDS, clinic director of pediatric dentistry and assistant professor of dental medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
“There was already a great need for oral healthcare in the pediatric population. We book our appointments months in advance, and there’s always a waitlist. There are lots of kids out there that need care,” Myers said.
The need holds for adult care too, Myers said, adding that with fewer appointments now available during standard hours because of COVID-19 safety measures, the community practice is an important opportunity to increase access to care.
Though the practice is an extension of CDM’s teaching clinics, the school said, the provider model is different. Residents provide care under faculty supervision, but in ratios of one or two residents per faculty rather than the five or six assigned in traditional teaching clinics.
Also, in some cases, faculty members treat patients directly. The cost to patients is kept low, CDM said, aligning with typical postgraduate teaching clinic fees, with the same insurance plans accepted.
Other benefits for patients include a faster pace of care than regular teaching clinics offer because fewer approvals and less supervision are needed with its more experienced providers, said Fredelyne Paris, senior practice manager for teaching clinics.
Also, the reception is staffed by a consistent group of people, which lends itself to rapport-building between patients and staff, Paris said.
Twelve residents and 10 faculty across three specialties provide care at the community practice, which expects to add other services like prosthodontics and orthodontics. For the residents and faculty, CDM added, the additional clinic time in small ratios is valuable.
“We’re really enriching their educational experience,” said Paris.
“It’s been great to get back to actually seeing patients directly,” said Myers. “It’s also nice to have those small interactions with the residents.”
“We work with a great team of people. Everyone is very passionate and very happy to support this practice. I’m happy we were able to pull this off, serve the public and the community and motivate our staff to come in and see the need,” said Paris. “It’s amazing.”