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Interprofessional Education

interprofessional collaborations

Interprofessional education (IPE) for health professionals is an initiative that involves students from different health professions learning with, from, and about each other with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of patient care. IPE programs emphasize teamwork, understanding other professions’ roles and responsibilities, respectful communication, and clinical experiences delivering interprofessional collaborative care. While the IPE concept has been around since the early 1970s, interest in IPE has escalated only in the past several years.

The core concept animating IPE -- that no single profession can optimize patient care – is gaining both substantial federal government and private foundation support, as well as support from health professions schools, and is poised to become the theoretical and practical foundation of health care education, research, and care going forward. According to recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports, "Interprofessional, team-based care has the potential to improve care coordination, patient outcomes, and produce cost savings." Yet, there remain challenges, as the IOM reports also note that "most health care professionals are not trained to work in either intra- or interdisciplinary teams."

The NYU College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is working to address these challenges. Indeed, even before the movement began to gain national attention, leaders in dental and nursing education at NYU were committed to changing the traditional healthcare paradigm of health professions students learning and working in silos. This is exemplified by the alliance formed in 2005 between NYU’s College of Dentistry, and the then-division of nursing at NYU, which became a College of Nursing (NYUCN) within the College of Dentistry. With the shared goal of advancing both oral health and general health outcomes, the alliance has become a nationally recognized model of IPE.

IPE gives us the opportunity to reinforce the link between oral health and systemic health and to overcome dentistry’s previous isolation from medical care. Also, since the other professions’ knowledge of basic oral health is limited, they have the opportunity to learn from us. And because our students are learning to work together, it is predictable that collaboration, including referrals, will become more frequent when both professionals go into practice.


DDS program

DDS Program

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dental hygiene programs

Dental Hygiene Programs

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NYU College of Nursing

NYU College of Nursing

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Examples of the NYU College of Dentistry /
NYU College of Nursing Alliance:

Located on the lobby level of the NYU College of Dentistry, the Nursing Faculty Practice, which opened in 2006, is a nurse practitioner (NP) managed primary healthcare center. The Nursing Faculty Practice addresses the great need for primary care among New Yorkers, especially older adults. A highlight of the Nursing Faculty Practice is the Diabetes Care Lifestyle Center. The Nursing Faculty Practice has the added goal of testing an innovative, collaborative oral-systemic primary care delivery model.

These include:

  • Competencies for nursing students achieved by conducting an oral health history, recognizing normal and pathological variations for oral structures, and demonstrating head and neck oral exams.
  • Competencies for dental students achieved by conducting a comprehensive assessment of dental patient general health needs and by identifying the need for referral for primary care, nutrition counseling, and social work, among other needs.
  • Collaborative competencies achieved by identifying specific oral-systemic associations derived from assessment data that impact the diagnosis and comprehensive and interprofessional treatment planning and evaluation of patient outcomes.

This initiative aims to create competencies in conducting comprehensive oral-systemic patient assessments and in making referrals for systemic health risks and problems.

The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Oral Health Curriculum teaches DDS and postgraduate pediatric dental residents effective behavioral management of pediatric patients and teaches pediatric NP students to conduct an oral health history and perform oral examinations on preschool children.

NYU Dentistry and NYUCN have implemented an interprofessional, population focused, healthcare initiative to help patients stop smoking.

Integrated case seminars bring together students in all four years of the DDS program, along with nurse practitioner and dental hygiene students, to study and present a case together.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, dental hygiene students, and postgraduate pediatric dentistry residents regularly collaborate in presenting clinical case conferences for pediatric dental patients with special needs.

NYUCN’s Feeling Good in Your Neighborhood primary healthcare van and NYU Dentistry’s Smiling Faces, Going Places mobile van program work collaboratively to expand community outreach oral and primary health care to children, conduct public health promotion initiatives, and practice as an interprofessional team.

Supported by a grant from HRSA, the Human Services Resource Administration, this initiative provides primary care house calls to seniors and primary care and dental screenings at senior centers and at community health fairs.

Nursing, dental, and dental hygiene students have worked as an interprofessional healthcare team on outreaches to Nicaragua and Honduras.

Funded by a grant from the DentaQuest, Washington Dental Service, and Connecticut Health Foundations, this program aims to develop a replicable model for integrating oral health into the curriculum of nursing schools throughout the US, as well as into best practices for oral health care in nurse-managed primary care settings.

NYU Dentistry/NYUCN research collaborations include:

  • Multiple collaborations on the link between diabetes and periodontal disease
  • Oral HIV testing trials
  • Interdisciplinary strategies to reduce the risk of early childhood caries
  • Dental-nursing summer research experiences
  • Dental-nursing interprofessional training in evidence-based practice
  • Interprofessional oral-systemic health initiatives supported by the Teaching Oral Systemic Health (TOSH) HRSA grant.