ADEA Washington Update

Spotlight on Advocacy: Allied Dental Educators’ Perspective

(Advocacy, House, Senate, Events, NIH, NIDCR, Oral Health, Public Health, Public Service Act) Permanent link   All Posts

RLSBy Rebecca L. Stolberg, RDH, M.S.D.H., ADEA Senior Director of Allied Dental Education and Faculty Development

As an allied dental educator or program director, how often do you think about advocacy? We teach our students to be advocates for their patients. We tell our students that one of their professional roles is advocate. What does this mean? Why is it important? Merriam Webster defines advocacy as act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. At the recent ADEA Advocacy Day, participants supported programs that directly impact allied dental education.

Every day, allied students are asked to find and state the evidence for why they are recommending a preventive product or why that diabetes question on the health history is important. The entire dental team needs continual research to provide our evidence for why we treat patients the way we do.  That is why ADEA advocates for full funding for the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). This funding directly impacts our members institutions. For example: New York University College of Dentistry received a five-year grant for $1.9 million from NIDCR to study birth defects affecting the skull.

The Health Resources and Services Administration reports that there are 5,719 Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas in the country, with 56 million individuals living in these shortage areas. Funding from Public Health Service Act Title VII Oral Health Training Programs assists schools in educating new dentists and dental hygienists to address this need. These programs also fund loan repayment programs to incentivize dentists and dental hygienists to practice in underserved areas. Many of these dental health providers decide to work in underserved areas permanently even after their term of service is over.  Allied dental educators are also eligible to apply for this loan repayment program.  With more than half of allied dental program directors approaching retirement age, this is extremely relevant to keeping a pipeline into dental education robust.

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