Bulletin of Dental Education

Rutgers Health Professions Students Collaborate to Treat Newark’s Underserved

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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Dental Medicine (RSDM) has combined interdisciplinary education with helping Newark’s most underserved individuals in a highly successful program funded by a $1.7 million federal grant. The Special Populations Interprofessional Care Experience program (SPICE) allows dental students to work with health professions’ students from other Rutgers schools to provide health care at a clinic in downtown Newark. 

At the Rutgers FOCUS Wellness Center, run by the Rutgers School of Nursing, dental students work with pharmacy and social work students. Funded with a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration and now in its third year, the program has proven to be a great success. In academic year 2017–18, 116 students participated and 74 individuals were treated, including 47 who were referred to RSDM’s dental clinics. 

Rutgers Clinic PhotoNearly 90% of the students who completed the program last academic year said they gained a new understanding of the roles played by other health providers. Students from other disciplines seemed to agree. RSDM Vice Dean Kim Fenesy, D.M.D., says, “I’ve gotten feedback where they say, ‘I had no idea that’s what dentists do.’ Students from other health professions now know the importance of dentistry to the overall health of a patient.”

RSDM graduate Andrea Kohanchi, who participated in the program in her third year, said she appreciated the chance to learn about the health needs of city residents and help them get proper treatment. “We’re hoping that more people who need dental care can get it,” she says. 

Contributed by Carrie Stetler, Marketing and Communications Program Manager, RSDM

Published on July 11, 2018

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