The impact of an interprofessional oral health curriculum on trainees

Oren Berkowitz, Madeline F. Brisotti, Leslie Gascon, Michelle Henshaw, Laura B. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose Despite the prevalence of oral disease, the subject of oral health historically has been absent from medical education. We have developed an interprofessional curriculum in collaboration with our school of dentistry to teach oral health in the primary care setting to physician assistant (PA) students. The goal was to create and assess the impact of a curricular model that would be adaptable to various academic settings. Methods A blend of classroom, clinical skills lab, observations in the dental clinic, and observed structured clinical examinations was used to teach oral health to first-year (didactic year) PA students. The objectives were created in collaboration between the medical and dental faculties and included topics on general oral health, oral cancer, geriatrics, pediatrics, and fluoride varnish. Results A total of 12 hours of instructional time was delivered to 23 students over 3 semesters from 2014 to 2015. Pretesting and posttesting demonstrated long-term knowledge retention that was 14% better than baseline at 8 months (P <.001). Student surveys demonstrated that satisfaction levels were high and that the students felt better prepared and motivated to incorporate oral health into their practice of medicine. Analyses of students’ write-ups of the history and the physical examination demonstrated that the students incorporated oral health concepts. Conclusions A significant impact on trainees can occur after a short, focused amount of instructional time in oral health. Students demonstrate enthusiasm and begin using oral health skills early on. A focused interprofessional oral health curriculum can likely be successfully integrated into various academic settings with a positive effect on learning and improved patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physician Assistant Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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