A $1.2 million cooperative agreement from Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will fund an innovative new program and partnership between the two universities that focuses on serving the primary care and oral health care needs of Boston area patients and their families.
The three-year funded project supports the creation of an interprofessional collaborative practice model in which primary care services are integrated into a primary academic dental practice. The program will give Northeastern University nurse practitioner students and Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) students the opportunity to work side-by-side to provide comprehensive healthcare services for patients in the Harvard Dental Center’s Teaching Practices clinic.
“We’re excited to work in partnership with Harvard on this collaboration and we hope this initiative will serve as a national model for how the integration of advanced practice nursing and dentistry can help improve access to care for vulnerable and underserved patients and populations,” said Dr. Maria C. Dolce, associate professor, Northeastern School of Nursing, and principal investigator for the project.
Goals of the project include increasing access to high quality, patient- and population-centered primary care for culturally diverse, vulnerable, and medically underserved communities; expanding the number of nurses with interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) competencies; advancing the state-of-the-science on interdisciplinary health teams; and evaluating the impact of team-based, IPCP models on improving health outcomes.
“Ultimately, the new model of care creates a novel way to deliver integrated oral health at the dentist office to improve oral-systemic health outcomes,” said Dean Nancy Hanrahan, School of Nursing, Bouvé College.
The project will kickoff in January 2016, when students from both schools will begin working together in the Harvard clinic. The collaborative approach is intended to promote team-building, collaborative problem-solving, and care coordination; provide practice-based IPCP educational experiences for dental and NP students; and demonstrate improvements in patient and population health outcomes for older adults with multiple, chronic conditions.
“Interprofessional demonstration projects such as the Nurse Practitioner-Dentist Model send this important message, said Dean R. Bruce Donoff quoting Louis Menand, ‘The key to reform of almost any kind in higher education lies not in the way that knowledge is produced. It lies in the way that the producers of knowledge are produced.’”
The Harvard Dental Center is a state-of-the art comprehensive dental care facility located adjacent to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In the Center’s Teaching Practices clinic, where the Model will be evaluated, treatment is delivered by pre-doctoral dental students and advanced graduate dental students. The Teaching Practices clinic serves the greater Boston community, and provides comprehensive dental care to 5,550 patients each year at a cost that is approximately 30% to 40 % less than fees charged at a private dental practice or completely free through several on-going community based efforts.
“This project is very much at the heart of the mission of the School and our work in the Teaching Practices,” said Dr. John Da Silva, associate professor of restorative dentistry and biomaterials sciences, vice dean of HSDM, and co-principal investigator for the project.