MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Dentistry has received a $50,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) Oral Health Program to help schools that train health professionals outside the field of dentistry to develop an oral health curriculum.

Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., clinical professor and interim chair of the WVU Department of Periodontics, serves as the principal investigator on the grant. She said the purpose of the grant is to ensure that non-oral healthcare professionals graduate with an appreciation of the importance of oral health to overall health and an awareness of their role in prevention, screening and referral to oral healthcare professionals.

She is working with health professions schools to develop a core set of oral health competencies and to integrate these competencies into their training.

Specifically, these graduates should be able to:
  • Perform oral screening exams
  • Provide basic preventive oral health information as appropriate throughout the life cycle including dietary and general lifestyle counseling 
  • Make and track dental referrals including collaboration with dental healthcare professionals
  • Recognize oral emergencies, including trauma, and provide appropriate early intervention and referrals.
  • Explain the oral-systemic impact on overall health and be able to recommend effective treatment strategies that include oral health considerations
To help accomplish this goal, Dr. Veselicky is working with health professions schools in adopting the Smiles for Life curriculum, which is now part of the Association of American Medical College’s MedEdPORTAL’s Oral Health in Medicine Model Curriculum. This free, evidence-based, peer-reviewed curriculum was developed to aid physicians and other healthcare providers to better understand the oral-systemic impact on health and provide a framework for interprofessional delivery of care.

Jason Roush, D.D.S, state dental director, said, “The WVDHHR Oral Health Program recognizes the importance of oral health integration into the training of non-dental healthcare providers. The Program values the leadership of the WVU School of Dentistry and the compassion of Dr. Veselicky.”
WVU School of Medicine students will benefit from the oral health curriculum thread during their four-year education, starting with the 2013-14 academic year. First-year students will participate in mandatory shadowing in the School of Dentistry’s clinics and oral health will be a part of their patient assessment training.  Second- and third-year students will complete the Smiles for Life modules during various sections of study, including otolaryngology, family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. Fourth-year students will complete an assessment on their ability to recognize oral considerations in patient treatment.

“We are deeply grateful to Dr. Veselicky for her outstanding leadership of this important initiative,” Arthur J. Ross, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the WVU School of Medicine, said. “It will enhance our medical students’ knowledge and inter-professional experiences, which will translate into their ability to better care for their patients upon graduation.”

With the WVU School of Medicine on board, Veselicky would like to work with other medical schools in the state. She said she is seeking oral health advocates at the schools and will be available to work with them on developing competencies in oral health and a curriculum that supports these competencies.  

“This is an exciting professional opportunity to share my oral health training and experiences with medical schools and to continue these efforts with pharmacy, nursing and other non-oral health professions schools,” Veselicky said. “We are concerned about the health and well- being of the whole patient, and our goal is to provide patient-centered, evidence-based care using an interprofessional approach to health.”
For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
ajk: 07-17-13