Pediatric Dentist to Lead $2.25M Grant to Expand Community Access

Posted on: Thursday, 06/25/2020

Francisco Ramos-GomezUCLA School of Dentistry’s Section of Pediatric Dentistry was awarded a $2.25M grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) over the next five years running from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025. The grant, led by Principal Investigator and pediatric dentist Dr. Francisco Ramos-Gomez, will enhance and expand several of the Section’s existing programs.  

Coined CARE PD (or Community Access Reach Education in Pediatric Dentistry), the grant will continue the development and restructuring of its interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum; it will continue its DDS/MPH dual-degree degree program; it will help expand safety net health care services for low-income and underserved urban/rural and migrant populations; and it will establish a national multi-university collaboration with Schools of Dentistry who also offer DDS/MPH dual degrees that will be taught at all collaborating institutions and will be made available in our UCCOH website.

For the past ten years, UCLA’s Pediatric Dentistry Section has built a robust and effective community outreach program within their residency program. From 2010 to 2015, the Section implemented Community Health and Advocacy Training (CHAT) and from 2015 to 2020, they expanded their work through a Strategic Partnership for Interprofessional Collaborative Education in Pediatric Dentistry (SPICE-PD). These programs and innovative training modules have effectively prepared UCLA’s graduates to address disparities in prenatal and children’s oral health. The true success of CHAT and SPICE has been a cohort of 352 alumni, including pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, general dentists and DDS/MPH graduates, who are trained and committed to providing preventive oral health services to underserved families and children.

 “Action is needed by pediatric dentists and primary care providers to expand access to quality oral health care and improve preventive oral health knowledge and skills among caregivers. There is still a need to increase the ability of dental and primary care providers to train on minimally invasive procedures and care for the needs of all patients, especially the ones with special needs, and address the social determinants of oral health,” said Dr. Ramos-Gomez.

NEW INITIATIVES

While the existing curriculum will continue uninterrupted with the support from this grant, CARE PD will expand on the success of CHAT and SPICE PD by reaching out to clinics and community-based organizations.

CARE PD aims to achieve the following five goals:

  1. To expand interprofessional education/practice (IPE/IPP) by training a new cohort of family medicine residents/nurse practitioner students in addition to our pediatric medical residents, pediatric nurse practitioners and general dental residents (AEGDs).

  2. To develop a hybrid virtual platform that can integrate the UCLA School of Dentistry’s Section of Pediatric Dentistry’s interprofessional residency training program (Infant Oral Care Program [IOCP]), patient clinical visits, and technology that allows patient information/diagnostics and pictures of children’s mouth/teeth to be sent to providers for their “virtual dental visit” and then transferred to electronic dental records so as to maintain continuity of patient care and the prevention and management of childhood caries. If in-person visits are needed, they will be scheduled for fluoride varnish application, toothbrush prophylaxis and other minimally invasive restorative treatments. Once established, the virtual platform will be a critical component to the tele-health project with our urban/rural/migrant HS/EHS collaborators.

  3. To establish a national multi-university collaboration offering virtual courses on dental public health, policy and advocacy, and racism, discrimination and the benefits of diversity.

  4. To enhance our collaboration with the UCLA School of Public Health by sponsoring a total of five DDS residents who want to earn an MPH degree (one per year over the next five years), requiring DDS/MPH residents to complete a practicum in dental public health and offering a dental public health curriculum to UCLA School of Public Health graduates

  5. Collaboration with the Migrant Clinicians Network for an oral health curricula for ECC prevention in their vulnerable communities

Over the last ten years of curriculum innovation, UCLA Dentistry’s Section of Pediatric Dentistry’s clinical priorities have included training on financial issues regarding early childhood caries, policy developments regarding early childhood caries prevention, diversity issues in the dental workforce, access to care and barriers to care, and emerging technology and the future of patient care. The Section’s faculty are world renowned experts and have long-standing working collaborations with a number of community partners. The impact CHAT, SPICE-PD, and now CARE PD has provided will result in effective, long lasting solutions to the barriers to accessing care that underserved families and children face.