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Integrating oral health curricula into nurse practitioner graduate programs

Results of a US survey

Dolce, Maria C., PhD, RN, CNE, FACHE (Associate Professor)1; Haber, Judith, PhD, APRN, FAAN2; Savageau, Judith A., MPH3; Hartnett, Erin, DNP, APRN-BC, CPNP (Program Director)4; Riedy, Christine A., PhD, MPH5

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners: November 2018 - Volume 30 - Issue 11 - p 638–647
doi: 10.1097/JXX.0000000000000079
Research - Quantitative

Background and purpose: Nurse practitioners (NPs) are a significant segment of the US primary care workforce and have a pivotal role in improving access to oral health (OH) care. The purpose of this research was to assess OH curricular integration in primary care NP programs and to examine factors that influence integration and satisfaction with graduates' level of OH competence.

Methods: A cross-sectional, national survey of NP programs (N = 466) was conducted using an electronically distributed 19-item, self-administered questionnaire. Data analysis included univariate, bivariate, multivariate statistics, and logistic regression modeling.

Conclusions: The large majority of pediatric, family, and adult–gerontology primary care programs are educating NP graduates about OH. Significant factors promoting integration and satisfaction with graduates' level of competence included the presence of a faculty champion and routine teaching by a dental professional or nondental OH expert.

Implications for practice: With adequate OH education, NPs are ideally positioned to integrate OH and primary care services in practice, thereby, improving access to OH care.

1Stony Brook University School of Nursing, Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook, NY,

2The Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York, NY,

3Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA,

4NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York, NY,

5Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA

Correspondence: Maria C. Dolce, PhD, Stony Brook University School of Nursing, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8240. Tel: 631-444-3792; Fax: 631-444-3136; E-mail:

Funding: This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) under grant number UH1HP29962, titled Academic Units for Primary Care Training and Enhancement. 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 US Government.

Competing interests: M. C. Dolce has received honoraria from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine for her role as a steering committee member of Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum. The remaining authors report no conflicts of interest.

Authors' contributions: M. C. Dolce and J. Haber developed the initial draft of the manuscript; all authors reviewed and revised the manuscript for final submission. J. A. Savageau conducted all data analyses. M. C. Dolce, J. Haber, and J. A. Savageau contributed to the instrument development. E. Hartnett completed all the references and manuscript citations. C. A. Riedy was one of the coprincipal investigators on this research and, in addition to serving in an editorial capacity for this manuscript, was instrumental in the conceptual development of the project.

Received April 06, 2018

Accepted April 30, 2018

© 2018 American Association of Nurse Practitioners
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