Dental school faculty teaching the periodontal-systemic connection to medical students: a pilot mini-elective

Edward P Heinrichs, Pouran Famili
Journal of Dental Education 2011, 75 (10): 1370-3
Given the growing appreciation of systemic health, it is more important than ever that both medical and dental school graduates thoroughly understand the whole-body implications of infection and inflammation. In a 2007 survey of academic deans at North American dental schools, the majority reported being confident about their students' knowledge regarding periodontal-systemic disease connections, but perceived that most nurses and physicians in their university/health science center, geographic location, and in general were not knowledgeable about oral health and its relationship to systemic disease. Though the respondents in this study reported their schools could be doing more to educate their students on this topic, their general confidence in their faculties' knowledge and teaching abilities regarding oral-systemic associations suggests that dental faculty members may be well positioned to educate medical students in this area. In January 2009, faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and School of Medicine explored this possibility by pilot testing a mini-elective in which several dental school faculty members team-taught medical students about conducting oral exams and the systemic effects of oral diseases. This article gives an overview of this elective and its outcomes.

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