Penn Dental Medicine said that it will launch an innovative postdoctoral Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) training program in general dentistry designed to educate dental residents in primary dental care for vulnerable and underserved patients with the support of a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
“This new program builds on our ongoing efforts at Penn Dental Medicine to address persistent health disparities and difficulties in accessing oral healthcare for vulnerable and underserved patients in Philadelphia,” said Dr. David Hershkowitz, division chief of restorative dentistry and principal investigator on the grant.
“It is our plan that program graduates will receive advanced knowledge, skills, and experiences to best serve these populations,” said Hershkowitz, who also will serve as director of the AEGD program.
Dental residents in the program will be placed in two of the school’s community-based sites. Penn Dental Medicine at Sayre is a federally qualified health center where the school has a four-chair dental care center. Penn Dental Medicine at Puentes de Salud serves the Latino immigrant community, where the school provides primary dental care within a three-chair facility.
Residents also will complete clinical dental care within Penn Dental Medicine’s soon-to-open Care Center for Persons with Disabilities and in the school’s clinical dental program for Survivors of Torture in partnership with Philadelphia’s Nationalities Service Center.
“Through Penn Dental Medicine’s substantial ongoing investment in treating vulnerable populations, we see not only the need for excellent comprehensive dental care, but also the need for advanced training in the delivery of that care,” said Dr. Olivia Sheridan, professor of clinical restorative dentistry and leader of the Survivors of Torture clinical care program.
“This program will provide that care and become a model for the advanced education of compassionate dental graduates to enhance their skills and understanding in the care of this population,” said Sheridan, who also will teach AEGD residents.
Penn Dental Medicine will work on developing the program through June 2021 and then apply for approval from the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The school expects the first class to begin in July 2021, with four students accepted into the one-year program each year.
“The program will provide knowledge, skills, and clinical experiences in cultural competency and health literacy,” said Dr. Joan Gluch, division chief of community oral health and a member of the program faculty.
“We will also be tracking outcomes and develop systems for evaluating program impact regarding both access to care for the vulnerable and underserved and the quality of care received by patients,” Gluch said.