Case Western Reserve dental and nursing students to treat patients in new 3-year test project

Published on November 21, 2012 at 3:40 AM · No Comments

Patients in dental chairs at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine will see something new: a nurse.

Students from Case Western Reserve University's dental and nursing schools will soon take an innovative and interprofessional team approach to treating patients in a new three-year test project.

The Collaborative Home for Oral Heath, Medical Review and Health Promotion, or CHOMP, will involve students from the university's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and the School of Dental Medicine to create, in essence, a one-stop shop for patient care.

CHOMP, funded with a $265,000 grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration to the school of nursing, will debut in late January at the Case Western Reserve dental clinic, 2124 Cornell Rd. in University Circle. The grant targeted efforts where health sciences are finding new ways that bring together the health science professions, like nursing and dental medicine, in working and learning situations.

While patients pay for regular dental exams and testing, the grant defrays fees for health screenings and immunizations.

"We have been thinking for a long time about how dentists and dental offices can be of even greater value to society by playing a broader role in primary health care," said Jerold Goldberg, dean of the dental school.

The first year, 32 dental and nurse practitioner (NP) students working in pairs will provide care one day a week. By year three, CHOMP will expand to twice a week and 64 students as the program expands from adults to include care for children.

Patients will receive oral exams and health screenings for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, red and white blood cell counts, and, if desired, HIV.

The NP students may treat and prescribe medications for patients with such acute health issues as flu, strep throat and other non-chronic illnesses, and administer immunizations for flu, tetanus and pneumonia.

Patients who need follow-up medical care will be referred to local health providers.

"A partnership between advanced practice nurses or NPs and dentists provides an excellent way to deliver and increase access to quality healthcare while alleviating the shortage of primary care providers." said Mary E. Kerr , dean of the nursing school.

Faculty from both schools will be on site to monitor and guide the dental-nursing teams.

Project director Carol Savrin, director of the Master of Science in Nursing program at the nursing school, and co-director Kristin Victoroff, associate dean for education at the dental school, will track how patients use the combined services and whether it is economically viable to have nurse practitioners work in the dental clinic. If so, the program will be expanded to five days a week.

Victoroff believes that bringing nursing and dental students together expands both groups knowledge and skill base and allows for a greater appreciation of what each does.

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