Utah Dental Schools Come Together to Improve the Future of Dental

Utah Dental Schools Come Together to Improve the Future of Dental Education

Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine, in collaboration with University of Utah School of Dentistry, held a joint faculty development training at Roseman’s Campus in South Jordan, Utah in July. The day was dedicated to understanding the future of dental education and practice and how both universities can work together to produce successful dentists who are prepared for the inevitable changes in the future of dentistry.

“It is very important to realize that the same issues in dental education affect faculty, students and patients across the country as well as locally,” stated Dr. Frank Licari, Roseman College of Dental Medicine Dean. “Collaborating with another school such as the University of Utah optimizes the talent and creativity at both programs to come up with better solutions.”

The United States dental care system is stuck, not necessarily in terms of providing a highly rewarding career for dentists, but in terms of delivering long-lasting, significant increases in dental care use and gains in oral health for certain segments of the population. With the changing landscape of healthcare, and especially dentistry, collaboration (rather than competition) among universities, is key.

“Collaboration between dental schools is a positive experience. We often have similar challenges, and sharing solutions is beneficial to both schools and to the dental community we serve,” stated Dr. Wyatt R. Hume, University of Utah School of Dentistry Dean. “We can learn from each other and significantly improve the end educational result.”

The over 50 attendees of the faculty development training discussed four key areas of dental care system reform that need to be considered because educators play a critical role in training dentists differently for the 21st century. The four areas, taken from The Journal of The American Dental Association (JADA) article titled “Our dental care system is stuck,” by Marko Vujicic, PhD, include:

  • Address the Dental Coverage Gap
  • Define and Systematically Measure Oral Health
  • Tie Reimbursement Partly, to Outcomes
  • Reform the Care Delivery Model.

To discuss these areas Vujicic was brought in.

“Dr. Vujicic’s presentation on future trends in dentistry was eye opening, and highlighted many ways that the profession needs to adapt to thrive in the future,” said Hume.

Vujicic currently serves as Chief Economist and Vice President of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association (ADA). Bringing evidence to policy-making is where his professional passions lies. Vujicic is the lead author of the book Working in Health, which examines health workforce policy issues globally and he has written several book chapters on healthcare policy issues.

In addition to learning about the future of the dental care system, attendees heard from Dr. Ellen Byrne about how prescribing the best pain medication requires clinicians to have knowledge of drug pharmacology, desired effects and undesirable side effects. Byrne reviewed major drug interactions involving pain medications, side effects and mechanisms of action involving non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics.

The topic of opioids is vital for dentists and future dentists to understand because they play a role as healthcare providers in stopping opioid abuse, especially in the state of Utah. Opioid abuse is an epidemic in Utah. According to opidemic.org, the state has the seventh highest drug overdose rate in the U.S. and 80 percent of Utah heroin users started with prescription opioids.

“Dr. Byrne’s lecture pointed out the need for dentists to stay current on drugs, their actions and interactions, and their potential for abuse,” stated Hume.

Byrne has degrees in pharmacy and dentistry and has used her pharmacology background to provide pharmacology continuing education to the dental community. She has also enjoyed numerous local, state and national speaking engagements, including the ADA and the American Association of Endodontics (AAE).

“It was an absolute pleasure to host this event and an honor to have the faculty from the University of Utah take the time to attend it with us,” stated Licari. “The most important takeaway from the day was that dental practice is certainly going to change and we as educators have an obligation to prepare students for that future.”

Rachael Thomas, MBA
Marketing Director
Roseman University of Health Sciences