Current status of predoctoral geriatric education in U.S. dental schools

Abdel R Mohammad, Philip M Preshaw, Ronald L Ettinger
Journal of Dental Education 2003, 67 (5): 509-14
The elderly constitute the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Dental schools must educate dental students so that they are competent and confident in managing the treatment needs of elderly patients. Programs in geriatric dentistry have been developed in response to the changing oral health needs of growing numbers of older adults. The purpose of this online survey was to identify the current status of predoctoral geriatric dental education in U.S. dental schools. A questionnaire relating to the teaching of geriatric dentistry was posted on the World Wide Web, and fifty-four US. dental schools were invited to complete the form. Data from completed questionnaires were submitted to the investigators via email. Following repeated phone calls and emails to urge school administrators to respond to the electronic questionnaire, a 100 percent response rate was achieved. All schools reported teaching at least some aspects of geriatric dentistry, and 98 percent had curricula that contain required didactic material. Sixty-seven percent of schools reported having a clinical component to geriatric dental teaching. Of these schools, the clinical content was required in 77 percent and elective in the rest. Thirty percent of schools reported a specific geriatric dentistry clinic within the school, and 11 percent had a remote clinical site. Sixty-three percent of schools have a geriatric program director or a chairman of a geriatric section. Over a third of schools indicated that they plan to extend the teaching of geriatric dentistry in the future. Geriatric dental education has continued to expand over the last twenty years and has established itself in the U.S. predoctoral dental curriculum. The format of teaching the subject varies considerably among the dental schools. Although didactic teaching of geriatric dentistry has increased markedly in the last two decades, clinical experience, both intramurally and extramurally, did not keep pace.

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