As awareness of the connections between oral health and systemic health continues to grow, the University of Michigan (U-M) Bicentennial Office has awarded a $15,600 grant to a collaborative project between medical and dental school students. The funding will be used to add dental care and oral health education to the primary care that medical students have provided free to underserved patients at a Livingston County clinic since 2012.
Last December, second-year dental students Jae Young Han and Philip Yoong started an interprofessional student group called Bridge of Disciplines to emphasize voluntary student-run initiatives involving the integration of dentistry with other disciplines. In addition to serving the community, the group aims to maximize educational potential and enhance experiential learning.
Han and Yoong will begin their work with the U-M Student-Run Free Clinic with an assessment to determine the dental needs of its patient population. Next, they will launch the training of medical students in the basics of oral screenings and work with students at the medical school and other campus units to develop an educational model that will sustain the multidisciplinary approach. Eventually, the dental students will act as an educational and screening resource to refer patients to community health resources.
“Our primary aim is to bridge the gaps between not only medicine and dentistry, but also other healthcare disciplines and related professions by promoting interprofessional experiences, developing relationships and practical skillsets that can maximize our growth potential, and increasing the public awareness of the importance of oral care,” said Han.