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iConnect News


Interprofessional Education: five years of success from HRSA grant awarded to ATSU-ASDOH

March 11, 2021
Posted In: Alumni Headlines, Arizona Campus, ASDOH, ASDOH Honors and Awards, ASHS, ATSU Departments, ATSU News, ATSU Schools, Faculty & Staff Headlines, IPE, SOMA, Student Headlines, University Headlines

Written by Barbara Maxwell, PT, PhD, DPT, FNAP, professor, university director of interprofessional education & collaboration and Scott Howell, DMD, MPH, ’14, assistant professor, director of public health dentistry and teledentistry.

In 2015, A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) received a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant was awarded to fund the project, “Expanding Dental Workforce Training Within Collaborative, Team-Based Care Targeting Federally Qualified Health Centers and Underserved Populations.”

Although the HRSA grant was awarded to ATSU-ASDOH it involved an interprofessional collaboration with ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) physician assistant (PA) program, School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA), and the office of Interprofessional Education and Collaboration. Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, dean emeritus, and Wayne Cottam, DMD, MS, vice dean ATSU-ASDOH, associate professor, served as principal investigators for this HRSA grant.

“Over the last five years this grant has provided rich opportunities for countless members of the ATSU community to engage in interprofessional teamwork with a focus on oral-systemic health. Students have been supported in developing their interprofessional collaborative competencies and patients have benefited through receiving effective interprofessional collaborative care that has improved their outcomes. Such actions have ensured the success of this collaborative HRSA grant,” said Barbara Maxwell, PT, PhD, DPT, FNAP, professor, university director of interprofessional education and collaboration.

Please note: This image was taken during an event prior to the implementation of social distancing.

“This grant has allowed all of us to work together to build on an incredible foundation while also developing some amazing new opportunities for our students,” said Scott Howell, DMD, MPH, ’14, assistant professor, director of public health dentistry and teledentistry.

The grant was completed in 2020 but the impacts will continue well beyond the grant project. Here are just some of the accomplishments achieved through the collaborative efforts of those involved.

Curriculum development and educational opportunities

  • 1,500 ATSU-ASDOH, ATSU-SOMA, ATSU-ASHS students participated in a new IPE didactic curriculum focused on developing four collaborative competencies: interprofessional communication, teamwork, roles and responsibilities, and ethics and values for interprofessional collaboration (Interprofessional Education Collaborative, 2016).
  • A new curriculum, teaching anesthesia to medical providers, was taught to several PA cohorts and one ATSU-SOMA cohort at the HealthPoint Clinic, by ATSU-ASDOH faculty, fourth-year dental students, and general dental resident teaching assistants.
  • Hundreds of dental and dental hygiene students received training focused on providing effective care to individuals with special needs.
  • Oral health topics were incorporated into both the PA and ATSU-SOMA curriculum.
  • Dozens of poster presentations, oral presentations, and panel discussions were delivered at local, state, national, and international meetings and conferences.
Please note: This image was taken during an event prior to the implementation of social distancing.

“I would say the biggest impact I have seen from our collective collaborative attempts throughout these experiences has been producing and nurturing an unprejudiced mentality within our student body across all different programs. This, in my opinion, has been our subliminal message while we kept the patient’s best interest in our hearts,” said Mindy Motahari, DMD, assistant dean, assistant professor.

Experiences in the ATSUASDOH clinic

  • Hundreds of PA and ATSU-SOMA students have engaged in interprofessional clinical experiences in the ATSU-ASDOH clinic led by third- and fourth-year dental students and ATSU-ASDOH faculty. Experiences have included oral cancer screenings, comprehensive patient care, emergency dental triaging, and exposure to patients with orofacial pain and temporomandibular joint disorders.

“This grant provided numerous opportunities for faculty and students from across the university to engage in interprofessional research. ATSU was well-represented at many national and international professional meetings, where we shared our research findings as well as our model for how to approach interprofessional education. We have also disseminated the outcomes of these activities in the scientific literature. We are grateful to HRSA for supporting our institution,” said Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD, assistant dean of research, professor.

Community expansion and additional ATSU-ASDOH support

  • Several new community and private industry partnerships have been established through this grant.
  • Teledentistry has been used to support the needs of children in detention, low-income seniors, and men in re-entry programs/substance use treatment programs. Hundreds of patients have received, and continue to receive, care both in the community and at the ATSU-ASDOH dental clinics.
  • Four new faculty/staff members have been added to ATSU.
  • Clinical IPE experiences with around 150 medical and dental students in the medical clinic at HealthPoint which resulted in the evaluation of more than 400 patients with dozens of referrals between medical and dental services.

“The dental students have continually expressed to me how much they have learned from the experience because even though they know and understand what they are doing for that comprehensive exam when they are teaching and interacting with PA students, they are learning the content in a whole different way. And the bonus is that the patients have loved the experience as well, having two different health care professionals working with them to take care of their needs,” said Colleen Trombly, RDH, MHSA, assistant professor.

“During my regular clinical observation sessions with [medical] students, I started noticing they were gloving up when they got to the mouth exam and putting their fingers inside the mouth for a more complete exam than I ever learned in medical school. Their ability to be helpful was drastically increased and most of them had more knowledge than many of their preceptors when patients appeared with a mouth problem,” said Ruth Michaelis, MD, HealthPoint Medical, regional director of medical education WA campus, associate professor.

Please note: This image was taken during an event prior to the implementation of social distancing.

Many thanks to all of the faculty and staff involved in supporting the success of this grant including:

From ATSU-ASDOH

  • Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, dean emeritus
  • Wayne Cottam, DMD, MS, vice dean, associate professor
  • Mindy Motahari, DMD, assistant dean, assistant professor
  • Scott Howell, DMD, MPH, ’14, assistant professor, director of public health dentistry & teledentistry
  • Colleen Trombly, RDH, MHSA, assistant professor
  • Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD, assistant dean of research, professor
  • Maureen Perry, DDS, MPA, associate dean, advanced education & strategic partnerships, director, The Center for Advanced Oral Health
  • Heather Johnson, RDH, MEd, co-director of dentistry in the community, instructor
  • Yvettte Thornton, RDH, MPH, co-director of dentistry in the community, instructor
  • Jessi Walker-Livingston, BSDH, RDH, adjunct professor
  • Emily Hawkins, RDH, adjunct instructor
  • Eric Harris, DDS, director, clinical education and outreach
  • Joni Podmanik, RDH, MEd, instructor dental hygiene
  • Jessica Cady, coordinator, dental assistant clinical education and outreach
  • Bob Trombly, DDS, JD, dean ATSU-ASDOH, professor

From ATSU-ASHS

  • Annette Betteridge, MS, PA-C, assistant professor
  • Bobbi Catton, coordinator, PA curriculum
  • Jesse Thompson, BS, EMT, simulation education specialist
  • Linda Knutson, PA-C, MEd, adjunct faculty
  • Linda MacConnel, MSPA, MAEd, PA-C, associate professor
  • Sarah Walsh, PA-C, MS, assistant professor
  • Melinda Rawcliffe, PA-C, MPAS, adjunct professor
  • Ashley Purviance, MA, JD, manager, PA portal

From Office of Interprofessional Education and Collaboration

  • Barbara Maxwell, PT, PhD, DPT, FNAP, professor, university director of interprofessional education and collaboration.

From ATSU-SOMA

  • Christine Morgan, EdD, assistant professor, research
  • Jeffrey Morgan, DO, FACOI, dean ATSU-SOMA, associate professor
  • Grace Stewart, MD, coordinator, admissions application

From HealthPoint

  • Jennifer Alexander, DDS, HealthPoint Dental, regional director of clinical care
  • Ruth Michaelis, MD, HealthPoint Medical, regional director of medical education WA campus, associate professor
  • Aline Swisshlem, HealthPoint Medical, regional education coordinator WA campus

From Sponsored Programs

  • Nora Alhaddad, MBA, BS, manager, sponsored programs, post-award project manager
  • Carrie Gaines, BS, director, sponsored programs, post-award compliance, and management

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer: This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D85HP20045; grant title Predoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene; total award amount of $1,736,074; with 54 percent financed with nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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