Interprofessional education: the inclusion of dental hygiene in health care within the United States – a call to action
Allison A Vanderbilt,1 Kim T Isringhausen,2 Patricia Brown Bonwell2,3
1Center on Health Disparities and School of Medicine, 2Department of Oral Health Promotion and Community Outreach, School of Dentistry, 3Dental Hygiene Program, School of Dentistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
Abstract: There is a lack of access to oral health care in the United States for rural, underserved, uninsured, and low-income populations. There are widely recognized problems with the US health care system, including rapidly increasing costs and access to oral health. During the last decade, there has been a huge influx and push toward interprofessional education programs; however, these programs conveniently leave out dental hygiene. Interprofessional education can bring forth the collaboration, communication, and teamwork necessary to provide a comprehensive health care plan to treat oral health care needs in patients. As the advanced practice for dental hygiene emerges, it is imperative that the educational qualifications of dental hygienists are sufficient to enable them to safely provide the scope of services and care encompassed in these new expanded roles and to effectively participate as an interprofessional team member.
Keywords: interprofessional education, dental hygiene programs, dental hygiene education, oral health education
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