Grant to Expand Horizons for Pediatric Dentistry Residents; Some to Earn MPH
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration.
The grant will allow Pediatric Dentistry residents to improve their knowledge and skills in public health dentistry, advocacy, and leadership, and provide them with the opportunity to improve access to care for vulnerable populations through pursuing alternative careers in academics, research, dental public health, and oral health policy. The grant will pay for tuition for two residents to pursue an MPH degree and another two to earn a Certificate in Public Health in cooperation with the UIC School of Public Health.
The grant also will provide all Pediatric Dentistry residents the opportunity to teach oral health principles and management of children, including special needs youngsters, in the subspecialty medical clinics at University of Illinois Hospital and partner clinics, where they will have an opportunity to experience different models of care. They will also receive training in leadership skills development.
Dr. Marcio da Fonseca, Department Head, and Dr. David Avenetti, Director of the Pediatric Dentistry Postgraduate Program, were the Principal Investigators on this grant and will run the program.
“The funding is approved for five years,” Dr. Avenetti explained. “The first year will be the planning year, and the next four will be for implementation.
“We are going to solicit applicants to the MPH program and develop partnerships with clinics the College already has a collaboration with so our residents can rotate through to experience delivery of care in a different environment,”
“We have nine residents per year, and every year will include two in the Certificate in Public Health Program and two in the MPH program,” Dr. da Fonseca explained. “The others will continue to earn a Master’s in Oral Science and/or a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry.” The grant will also provide a stipend for the MPH students in their third year.
“One of our goals is to focus on leadership training and get people oriented to advocacy in public health so they can consider alternative career choices in Pediatric Dentistry such as academics, research, dental public health, and oral health policy and administration,”
Besides readying residents for private practice, “It’s also our vision to graduate people interested in an academic career,” Dr. da Fonseca said. “There is a shortage of dental faculty around the country. We’re also hoping to make our program more attractive by offering an enriching educational experience and so attract a more diverse pool of candidates who may have an interest in pursuing an alternative career in the specialty.”
“Another of our goals was to increase access to care for vulnerable populations,”
“But everyone, not only the people in those programs, will benefit because they will be rotating through community partner sites and the University of Illinois Hospital, and doing leadership training” Dr. Avenetti said.
“Only a handful of schools earned this grant,” Dr. da Fonseca noted. “The fact that we are one of them speaks to the strength of our plans and to the strength of UIC itself.
“Our historic mission is serving the vulnerable populations of the State of Illinois, and we think that the people who go through this program will have a better idea of what public health means and how to serve the underserved,”
William S. Bike