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October 11, 2010

Penn Dental Medicine Awarded $2 Million HRSA Grant

Penn Dental Medicine has been awarded a total of $2 million over the next five years from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in support of community and public health training programs within the School. Penn Dental Medicine is one of 12 dental schools nationwide to receive this type of HRSA training grant, available to academic dental institutions for the first time this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health care reform law enacted in March 2010.

“The health care reform legislation includes provisions to support the ongoing development of the public health work force,” says Dr. Joan Gluch, Director of Community Health for Penn Dental Medicine and program director/principal investigator of the HRSA grant. “We are pleased to receive these funds which will play a vital role in increasing our predoctoral dental students’ knowledge, skills, and experiences to expand the workforce in public health dentistry.”

The grant award will provided support on a number of levels within the school. Funds will be used to evaluate and expand community-based experiences for all second-year dental students through enhanced participation with four University of Pennsylvania-affiliated community health sites. Funds are also provided to develop and staff a dental facility within Sayre Health Center, a full-service, primary care health center located at Sayre High School West Philadelphia, which will serve as a site for dental student participation as well. In addition, the award provides funding for expanded support to staff a community health honors program as well as expanded support for students in the dual-degree Master of Public Health/DMD program. A comprehensive program evaluation will be developed examining process and outcome variables, including program operation, the impact on students and community members, and student perceptions regarding public health practice.

“The exciting thing about this grant is its many tiers of support,” adds Dr. Gluch, “which will enable us to examine and expand basic dental public health training for all predoctoral students in addition to offering an expanded honors experience (including the MPH degree) to talented students interested in a career in public health dentistry.”

Currently, students and faculty in Penn Dental Medicine’s Division of Community Oral Health serve approximately 14,000 individuals in West and Southwest Philadelphia through PennSmiles, an oral health education and treatment program with the School District of Philadelphia; the LIFE Center, an interdisciplinary system of all-inclusive healthcare for frail seniors in West and Southwest Philadelphia operated by Penn’s School of Nursing, and other University-affiliated community health sites.

“Penn Dental Medicine has had faculty and students involved in the community for many years. The HRSA grant allows us to build on that experience and to improve coordination and oversight of services and educational opportunities in both old and new community sites,” adds Dr. Robert Collins, Chief of the Division of Community Health. “While providing needed services to the community, our dominant goal is to produce graduates who value the community and preventive perspectives and will look for ways to incorporate these approaches into their future practices.”

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The Robert Schattner Center
University of Pennsylvania
School of Dental Medicine
240 South 40th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6030