The purpose of the study was to describe inclusion of didactic and clinical instruction in oral health in physician assistant (PA) education programs in 2014. A previous study in 2008 found that PA education program directors generally understood the importance of teaching about the linkage of oral health with systemic health; yet, few programs had actually integrated oral health instruction into the PA curriculum. This study was undertaken to ascertain the number of PA programs teaching oral health topics and to evaluate the content of instruction and implementation strategies.
The study used a Web-based survey using a skip logic design that branched respondents based on inclusion or the absence of an oral health curriculum in the PA education program. The questions included predefined response options with the opportunity for narrative responses and comments. Analysis of survey data was completed using SPSS (IBM) and SAS (SAS Institute, Inc) and consisted mainly of frequencies and cross tabulations.
There was greater inclusion of oral health curriculum in 2014 than in 2008 with most PA programs now providing didactic and clinical training in oral health. Stakeholders' efforts to engage PA program faculty with integration of oral health subject matter into core curriculum have resulted in wider availability of training for PA students in oral health promotion and prevention services.
Efforts to equip PA faculty to teach oral health topics and clinical skills should continue as past efforts have resulted in wider integration of oral health subject matter into core PA curriculum.