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ADA/UCLA School of Dentistry Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Project On Track for Fall 2011 Completion

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Washington, D.C.—The American Dental Association and the UCLA School of Dentistry today announced that the completion of the program by the current cohort of students in the ADA Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) project will bring this phase of the pilot program to a close at UCLA. Students already enrolled in the UCLA program will complete their training there this fall and begin work in their home communities.

"The CDHC pilot project's design gives us great flexibility in calibrating it as it evolves, allowing us to implement adjustments and refine it in a nimble manner and without impact to the students." said ADA President Dr. Raymond Gist.  "We have been very satisfied by the progress that's been made, especially by the return of our first students to local communities in need as well educated and fully trained Community Dental Health Coordinators" 

The CDHC pilot project will create a new dental team member trained to improve the oral health of people who, for economic, geographic or cultural reasons, lack access to regular dental care.  In their initial phase of training, students complete 12 months of online coursework administered by Rio Salado College in Tempe, Ariz.  Upon successfully completing the didactic portion of their training, the students begin six-month internships.  Temple University's Kornberg School of Dentistry trains students to work in inner cities; the University of Oklahoma trains students to serve in remote rural areas; and students currently at the UCLA School of Dentistry are training to work in Native American Communities.

"We're proud to have been a part of launching this program, a valuable service to both students in the CDHC program and residents of underserved communities," said Dr. Marvin Marcus, professor and chair of the Division of Public Health and Community Dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry and current administrator of that institution's CDHC program. 

The three-year CDHC pilot project, funded by the ADA with assistance from Henry Schein, Inc., will run through the fall of 2012, at which point three cohorts (classes) of students will have graduated and begun working in underserved communities.  Students in Cohort 1 completed their training in fall 2010 and are working in various settings.  Cohort 2 students at UCLA, the University of Oklahoma and Temple University will complete their training in the fall of 2011. The third cohort of students is presently being recruited from underserved rural, urban and Native American communities and will begin their coursework this spring.

"A key element to this project is cultural competence," said Dr. Gist.  "Too often, people entering communities with which they aren't familiar can encounter cultural or language barriers that impede their abilities to serve the host population.  Most CDHCs won't face those barriers, because they are being recruited from the same communities in which they serve.  In addition to helping people improve their own oral health, they are serving as role models.  And the CDHC program overall also is creating jobs in the target communities."

Dr. Gist praised the faculty and administrators at UCLA for their help in launching this unique project to train community health workers for dentally underserved areas.  "We are particularly grateful for the hard work and dedication of Dr. Nancy Reifel, who directed this program, and Dr. Marvin Marcus, who has been instrumental in helping us with this program and will oversee Cohort 2's training through its completion next fall."

About the American Dental Association

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit www.ada.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website www.MouthHealthy.org.

About the UCLA School of Dentistry

The UCLA School of Dentistry is dedicated to improving the oral health of the people of California, the nation and the world through its teaching, research, patient care and public service initiatives. The school provides education and training programs that develop leaders in dental education, research, the profession and the community; conducts research programs that generate new knowledge, promote oral health and investigate the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral disease; and delivers patient-centered oral health care to the community and state.