Bulletin of Dental Education

The Promise of IPE: One Patient, Many Providers, Improved Care

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In a perfect scenario, a dental patient with indications of heart problems, diabetes or other health issues would receive a referral to the appropriate specialist for additional care. However, health care professionals are looking forward to a fresh, new approach to treatment that sees a host of professions working together in the interest of 360-degree care.

Efforts to bring attention to and encourage this approach at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) are described in an article featured in the fall issue of Tufts Dental Medicine. At TUSDM, administrators have embarked on an initiative that sees interprofessional education, or IPE, as integral to the education of future dentists. 

Interprofessionalism in health care is evolving along two tracks, says Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., M.B.A., President and CEO of ADEA. “The focus at a number of academic institutions is to move the educational process out of the siloed way in which it currently occurs—medicine taught independently from nursing from pharmacy and so on—to a movement to enhance the interactions of all health professions students,” he says.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation is also behind the push to instill IPE at all U.S. dental schools. New standards require schools to show interaction between higher education and health care disciplines at their schools as part of core competencies. Students should graduate with strong communication and collaboration skills as members of a health care team. 

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