For the past year, the underserved populations of the Tampa Bay area have been the beneficiaries of a unique educational-service partnership among Hillsborough Community College (HCC), the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UFCD), and dentists in the community. The Hillsborough Community College/University of Florida College of Dentistry (HCC/UFCD) Clinic provides the opportunity for the three partners to fulfill their service missions through general dental care including endodontics, periodontics, oral surgery, and implant dentistry. This modern educational program supports lifelong learning, career workforce opportunities, and community initiatives while maximizing oral health care benefits to the community.
According to Dr. Krista Schobert, one of the supervising dentists, “The HCC/UFCD Clinic is a unique concept in the field of dental education. Historically, students in dental assisting, dental hygiene, and dental residency programs are educated separately and expected to work effectively as a team after graduation. At our program, the students are trained together and interact through their education. This will enhance team practice skills when these students enter the private practice setting.”
The HCC/UFCD Clinic, located on Hillsborough’s Dale Mabry Campus, is a 6,000 square foot facility with 14 full-service dental operatories that provides reduced fee dental care to low-access/low-income adults and children. The clinic is a national model for the team approach to community dental care in which dental assisting and dental hygiene students work together with dentists in residence, under the supervision and oversight of dental professionals and faculty, to learn and to prepare themselves to enter the workforce and, at the same time, provide dental care to an underserved population.
Since its establishment in fall 2003, the clinic has been characterized as a model for the State of Florida to show how the local dental community can actively support increased access to dental care for underserved adults and children via the Florida Dental Association’s Project: Dentists Care.
The University of Florida College of Dentistry, as one partner in the program, trains dental residents in the clinic. These residents receive a full year of advanced dental training as part of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program. Educational experiences in the AGED program include intense training in a clinical setting as well as lectures provided by UFCD faculty from the main campus in Gainesville, Florida. The didactic lectures provide dental residents with advanced instruction in craniofacial pain, removable prosthodontics, implantology, geriatric dentistry, etc. The interactive lectures are provided from the main UF campus through the use of the state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology.
Private practice dentists and specialists from the local community, another program partner, also help mold the minds of Florida’s future dentists. As courtesy faculty, they provide lectures on their specialty, which can be viewed by residents in the area or videoconferenced to dental clinics with AEGD programs across the state. Sixteen area dentists and specialists currently volunteer their time as faculty.
Hillsborough Community College, with its dental assisting and dental hygiene programs, is the third partner in the clinic. Students in the dental assisting program expose and process x-rays, fabricate temporary crowns, take impressions for study models, place sealants, polish teeth, place fluoride treatments, place and remove rubber dams, place and remove temporary restorations, place oral surgical dressings, chart oral conditions, instruct the patient on oral home care, complete office management tasks, and keep the office in compliance with OSHA and blood-borne pathogens mandate. Students in HCC’s dental hygiene program perform preventive dental procedures that include oral health care assessments which involve taking radiographs, dental charting, oral cancer screenings, taking and recording blood pressure, dental cleaning and polishing procedures, fluoride and sealant applications, and oral hygiene education with guidance for good nutrition and tobacco cessation.
All three partners look forward to continuing their support of the clinic in the future.
Reporting by Paulette Szabo Gross, Hillsborough Community College.