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J Dent Educ. 2009 Jun;73(6):656-64.

The integration of social work into a postgraduate dental training program: a fifteen-year perspective.

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University of Rochester Medical Center, Eastman Dental Center, 625 Elmwood Ave., Box 683, Rochester, NY 14620, USA.


In 1993, Eastman Dental Center partnered with the Social Work Division of the University of Rochester Medical Center to develop a social work model of care with the goal of addressing the biopsychosocial needs of the dental population. This article will describe the gradual integration of social work within dentistry and its subsequent impact on resident education, clinical care, research, and program development. Examples of social work's contributions in the dental setting include resident/faculty education on critical psychosocial issues such as child maltreatment and intimate partner violence; the development and implementation of grant-funded projects that utilize trained paraprofessionals to address oral health disparities; interdisciplinary collaboration with dental residents and faculty members on research activities; patient advocacy; oral health promotion within the community; and the creation of a patient assistance fund to meet uncovered care-related expenses. This fifteen-year model demonstrates the viability and sustainability of a social work presence within the academic dental setting.

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