University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently received the first community-based clinical education grant from the California Dental Association (CDA) Foundation, in partnership with the state Office of Oral Health. This grant will enable the school to expand oral health care services at community health centers serving the town of Livingston in Merced County and the county of Napa.
This opportunity emerged as a result of CDA’s successful proposal for a $10 million grant aimed at creating new community-based clinical education rotations for dental students. The proposal received approval in California’s 2022-2023 state budget, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The allocated funding will be utilized to establish fresh clinical rotations for senior students enrolled in the school’s Doctor of Dental Surgery and International Dental Studies programs. During these rotations, students will spend two weeks each at two Napa clinic locations, namely CommuniCare+OLE (formerly OLE Health), and the Livingston Community Health Campus. These locations cater to patients from areas in the state designated as dental health professional shortage areas by the Health Resources & Services Administration.
Collaborating with onsite dentists at each center, dental students will provide a comprehensive range of preventative and general dental procedures to a diverse patient population. The services rendered will include exams, cleanings, fillings, emergency care, and more.
“While patients will benefit from the care, our dental students will also benefit from the experiences they will receive working with patients from a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi, dean and vice provost of the Dugoni School.
“Dental students are the future of our profession’s workforce,” said Dr. Richard Graham, chair of the CDA Foundation’s board of directors. “Increasing their learning experiences with historically underserved communities will help them better address existing health inequities throughout the state.”
The CDA Foundation approved two years of funding at approximately $550,000 to support these rotations. The school can apply for up to $1 million in the coming years to support new community outreach rotations.
The CDA Foundation will also work with other dental schools across California to expand student rotations at federally qualified health centers in order to improve access to quality care and foster a health care workforce that can confidently address current and emerging needs across the state. This program will enhance the already significant role dental schools in California play as a part of the safety net.
“It has been a great experience to work with dental students during their clinical rotations. This partnership has created a learning opportunity for students as well as professional development opportunities for the staff,” said Dr. Pawanjeet Singh Pannu, dental director of Livingston Community Health. “Having students at our clinic site has increased access to care for our patients. Partnering for these clinical trainings can lead to more recruitment opportunities for health centers and eventually be helpful in increasing access to care for the underserved populations.”
In addition to these new rotations, the Dugoni School currently offers extramural clinic rotations at California Pacific Medical Center, La Clinica de la Raza, On Lok PACE, San Mateo Medical Center and Stanford Oral Medicine and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic.
Through its extramural clinic rotations and at the Dugoni School’s campus in downtown San Francisco, the school provides oral health care for nearly 20,000 patients each year across Northern California.