Amber Hurley-Johnson and Randy Rodriguez-Torres became the first Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.O./D.M.D) jointly enrolled students at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in August 2007. The program combines dental and osteopathic programs as an educational learning continuum. In May 2013, Drs. Hurley-Johnson and Rodriguez-Torres became the first graduates of NSU’s dual-degree program, which was created as a new pathway to address access to care issues and provide care for underserved populations.
The six-year D.O./D.M.D. program combines the medical and dental curriculums, with the first-year curriculum combining both the medical and dental coursework. Program participants are essentially considered first-year dental students but take additional courses with their osteopathic peers, including introduction to clinical medicine and osteopathic principles and practices. Second-year students are primarily osteopathic medical students (OMS)-Is, with independent study time in the dental simulation laboratory. Third years are primarily OMS-IIIs and rotate at hospitals or offices alongside their osteopathic classmates.
As the OMS-III year comes to an end, the program’s fourth year launches the dual-degree students’ transition back into dental school. Fourth-year students are considered D2s, with a half day of medical clinic per week. Fifth-year students are primarily D3s but also complete core medical rotations, such as rural medicine. Sixth-year students complete remaining requirements for both dental and medical school, including medical electives in the fall semester. The curriculum changes and adapts as the curriculums in each school are updated.
The D.O./D.M.D. program has one to three students enrolled in every year of the educational process. Students enter the program after being accepted into either the medical or dental school. Once accepted, the students then apply for the dual-degree track. Currently, a little more than half of the students in the program have come through the dental school.
Dr. Hurley-Johnson has chosen to continue her program via a four-year accredited oral maxillofacial surgery path. Dr. Rodriguez-Torres’s continued path is one of a dual practice model as he pursues residency training in internal medicine operating a full-service health center.