Bulletin of Dental Education

Manitoba Health Supports Collaborative Oral Systemic Health Curriculum

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Submitted by the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry

University of Manitoba Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine join forces to improve health of at-risk Manitobans  

Manitoba Health announced $500,000 in funding (over five years) to the faculties of Medicine and Dentistry toward development of a groundbreaking online curriculum to educate nondental health care providers about oral health.

Diseases and conditions of the oral cavity can have a profound and pervasive impact on overall health, especially in high-risk populations where access to dental care may be limited. The Oral Systemic Health for Non-Dental Healthcare Providers curriculum is the first comprehensive plan to fill this gap in health science education.

“This new and innovative online educational training curriculum will give health care workers the tools they need to help identify serious oral health conditions that can affect the lives of their patients,” said Ms. Theresa Oswald, Minister of Health (Manitoba).

Dr. Anthony M. Iacopino, Dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry, noted that the patient-centered curriculum will provide valuable training in areas such as cancer and periodontal disease. “It will ultimately result in better care for those at risk,” he said. “We are pleased to be able to take on a leadership role in this next generation of health care in Canada.”

The multimedia online curriculum will feature learning modules focusing on areas highly relevant to health outcomes in high-risk populations. These areas include oral cancer; the oral health care of children, older adults, care givers, and immunocompromised patients; and the provision of basic dental care by non-dental healthcare providers.

“We expect the new curriculum will be embraced by all members of our allied health professions as we work toward improving health outcomes for all,” said Dean Brian Postl, University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine.

The curriculum will provide tools to assist nondental health care providers—such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists—in screening, appropriately referring patients at risk for oral diseases and conditions, and co-managing patients in high-risk categories.

Given the appropriate education and training in oral health, nondental health care providers could impact the epidemiologic trends in serious and often debilitating oral diseases and conditions.

The Curriculum in Oral Health for Non-Dental Healthcare Providers is led by Dr. Casey Hein, Director of Education, International Centre for Oral-Systemic Health and Director of Inter-Professional Continuing Development in the Faculty of Medicine’s Division of Continuing Education and Professional Development.

The curriculum realizes the mandate set out by Health Canada for achieving interprofessional education for collaborative, patient-centered practice. The educational modules, currently under development, will be made available to students at the University of Manitoba in addition to undergraduate and graduate health care students worldwide.

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