New Jersey Dental School (NJDS) is helping to address what is perhaps dental education’s greatest challenge yet: a critical nationwide shortage of faculty.
Thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NJDS is initiating a program to recruit and train 45 practicing, general and pediatric dentists, who will then join dental school faculties in the Middle Atlantic States (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania). Special emphasis will be on developing culturally competent faculty members with expertise in treating underserved populations. The end result will be increased access to oral healthcare for everyone who seeks it.
The two-year program, known as From Practice to Preceptor, is free of charge for qualified practicing general and pediatric dentists. Those who enroll earn continuing dental education credits, gain access to many of the school’s resources and receive a small stipend. Enrollment will begin in fall 2012.
The shortage of dental educators is not new. However it continues to worsen. Among the reasons are a graying faculty, with an average age of 55 to 60; an increase in the number of dental schools across the country; and the schools’ inability to pay salaries commensurate with those earned in private practice.
Dentists who enroll will learn a broad set of skills, enabling them to teach and also to fulfill administrative and leadership roles in an academic environment. During the first year trainees will spend one day per week at NJDS’s Newark campus, observing and teaching in the clinic and pre-clinic. Working alongside experienced faculty, they will learn to deliver culturally competent care and to treat and interact with special populations, such as HIV/AIDS patients and children and adults with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. Hands-on experience will include observing and treating patients at: the Special Care clinics on the UMDNJ Newark campus and at Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack, N.J., a hospital and educational center for people with medically complex developmental disabilities; the NJDS Oral Medicine Clinic in Newark; the University Dental Center at Galloway, N.J., which treats a high volume of medically complex patients; and the John W. Cronin Dental Center in Northfield, N.J., which treats a high volume of nursing-home residents and Medicaid patients.
Second year trainees will plan and conduct community service projects that involve children at one of the state’s at-risk schools. In addition, they each will be assigned a clinical research mentor and will develop a research design, which they can complete in the future to strengthen their scholarly activities. And, one day each week they will teach at a community-based site. A unique feature of the program is that participants will present and attend Grand Rounds with the Family Medicine Department residents at UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) in Stratford, N.J., and at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) in Newark. They also will be part of inter-professional teams through NJDS’s Community Health Department and the Family Medicine departments at SOM and NJMS.
For more information or to register, call the NJDS Office of Continuing Dental Education at 973-972-6561.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey’s only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending three medical schools, the State’s only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey’s only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the State.