Bulletin of Dental Education

IU South Bend Collaborates With School Nurses and Health Department to Assess Youth Oral Health

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IUSD LogoIndiana University South Bend (IU South Bend) has been applying the concepts of interprofessional education and collaboration in the classroom successfully for many years. Student dental hygienists learn from and with students majoring in various fields such as Speech Language Pathology and Health Promotion. In May and June 2019, Assistant Dean of the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences Kristyn Quimby, D.H.Ed., RDH, CHES®, and Division of Dental Education Program Director Mallory Edmondson, M.S.D.H., RDH, put the practice of interprofessional collaboration into action through a school-based oral health assessment project. 

Oral health surveillance is critical to building community health assessment protocols and establishing baseline measures with which to improve overall oral health in a community. The study collected baseline oral health data from third grade children in St. Joseph County, IN, so that oral health preventive interventions can be implemented in the future. The project required close collaboration between health educators from the St. Joseph County Department of Health and school nurses from the South Bend Community School Corporation. The relationship between IU South Bend and the health department facilitated the partnership with the manager of the school nurses, as well as provided the needed conduit for collaboration with the school board. The school nurses provided an opportunity to access students without disrupting learning and they coordinated with teachers and principals, allowing everyone to support the project. 

Following the screenings, the nurses provided a key partnership for follow up on referrals to ensure students’ needs were addressed appropriately. Collaboration among the health professionals provided an opportunity to begin improving the oral health of a community and offered an example of successful partnership to future hygienists, nurses and health promotion specialists. 

Courtesy of Mallory Edmondson M.S.D.H., LDH, Dental Education Program Director, Clinical Assistant Professor, Indiana University South Bend

Published on September 11, 2019

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