By Lynn Anderson Davy | Iowa Now | 3/24/2017
The UI College of Dentistry has long been considered a leader in geriatric dental care. Since the 1970s, the school has required all students to enroll in an introductory course in the subject, and roughly two-thirds take the geriatric/special needs elective that puts them in Hartshorn’s clinic three days per week for five consecutive weeks.
The college also operates a mobile dental clinic—staffed by Hartshorn’s students—that serves 10 nursing homes in Iowa. The mobile clinic was started in 1982 by Ronald Ettinger, an emeritus faculty member and renowned advocate for geriatric dentistry, and Howard J. Cowen, clinical professor and director of the Geriatric and Special Needs Dental Program and Geriatric and Special Needs Postgraduate Certificate Program.
Recently, the college increased the level of care for elderly patients by adding a nurse practitioner and social worker to the geriatric dental clinic team. The additions are part of a joint effort by the College of Dentistry and College of Nursing to provide one-stop, total health check-ups for older patients. The effort is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation of Iowa and could be expanded to include more nursing and social work students in the future.
“Having a nurse practitioner in the dental office expands the focus of the visit from strictly oral health to overall health,” says Larry Newman, assistant clinical professor and director of the Adult/Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program at the College of Nursing. “For the patient, it is an opportunity to see two health care professionals at once, saving time and energy.”
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