This study describes the inclusion of oral health in physician assistant (PA) education programs in 2017. A 2014 study found that 78% of responding programs (n = 98 of 125) had integrated this content into their curriculum. The current study represents a partnership between the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, the Center for Integration of Primary Care and Oral Health, and the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health. The PA profession was one of 14 health professions surveyed to assess the quantity and quality of oral health integration, including barriers to and facilitators of change.
An electronic cover letter explaining the research purpose was emailed to all US PA education program directors along with a link to a web-based survey. Most questions were followed by predefined response options; some questions offered an opportunity to include narrative responses or comments.
There was greater inclusion of oral health curriculum in 2017 than in 2014, for both the number of programs including oral health education and the breadth of their curriculum.
Efforts to equip PA faculty to integrate oral health core clinical competencies into their curriculum should continue, because existing strategies appear to be sustainable and effective in expanding oral health content across PA programs.
Anita Duhl Glicken, MSW, is the executive director of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health and associate dean and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.
Judith A. Savageau, MPH, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Tiffany A. Flick, BS, BA, is managing director at the nccPA Health Foundation, Johns Creek, Georgia.
Cynthia Booth Lord, MHS, PA-C, is an associate professor and program director of the Physician Assistant Program at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Robin Harvan, EdD, is a professor for and director of the Health Sciences Program at MCPHS University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Hugh Silk, MD, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the UMass Medical School, a part-time lecturer at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and medical director at the Primary Care Wellness Center/Community Healthlink, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Correspondence should be addressed to: Anita Duhl Glicken, MSW, Executive Director, National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, 4120 South Birch Street, Englewood, CO 80113. Telephone: (303) 759-4839; Email: Anita.Glicken@NIIOH.org
A.D. Glicken is an independent contractor, serving as the executive director of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (NIIOH). The NIIOH is funded by the DentaQuest Foundation and the Arcora Foundation. The Center for Integration of Primary Care and Oral Health (CIPCOH) was established in July 2016 through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, as one of 6 national centers supported by the Academic Units for Primary Care Training Enhancement (AU-PCTE) program. The CIPCOH serves as a national resource to consolidate the evidence base for systems-level oral health integration into primary care training. The remaining authors declare no conflicts of interest.