Dental Tribune America

Dental, medical and nursing students work together in new study

NEW YORK, U.S.: With dental caries being the most common chronic childhood disease, it is imperative that health care professionals across all sectors work closely together. In a new study, led by the New York University (NYU) Rory Meyers College of Nursing, dental, medical and nursing students worked together in order to help improve interprofessional skills and collaboration between primary care and dental providers.

“Collaborative, workplace-ready students are valuable assets to any clinical team. Our goal is for team-based, whole person care to become the norm for promoting children’s oral health and preventing cavities,” said Dr. Erin Hartnett, Program Director of Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) at NYU Meyers and the study’s lead author.

As part of the interprofessional experience, family nurse practitioner, medical and dental students worked as a team to assess patients. Together, they reviewed patients’ charts, looked at patients’ medical and dental history, performed oral assessments, applied fluoride varnish, and educated children and parents. Students also learned to identify the connection between oral health and overall health, covering areas such as how certain diseases or medications can affect oral health. According to the study’s authors, the overall goal was to increase the oral health knowledge and skills of nondental primary care providers while boosting dental students’ knowledge about the link between oral and systemic health.

According to the study, a total of 162 family nurse practitioner, dental and medical students participated in this interprofessional experience, and the students completed surveys before and after their participation to evaluate whether their interprofessional competencies had changed. Results of the study showed that all students had significantly improved interprofessional competency scores after the team-based experience. This included improvements in important factors for working with other professionals, such as communication, collaboration, conflict management, team functioning and using a patient-centered approach.

“Our findings suggest that a team-based, clinical approach can be an effective strategy to help health professional students develop interprofessional competencies,” said co-author Dr. Judith Haber, Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing at NYU Meyers and Executive Director of OHNEP.

The study, titled “The impact of an interprofessional pediatric oral health clerkship on advancing interprofessional education outcomes,” was published online on April 22, 2019, in the Journal of Dental Education ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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