Dr. Leonard Brennan, instructor in Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology and fourth-year DMD student, Yassee Pirooz, were recently invited to teach a class of Northeastern University nurse practitioner (NP) students about the importance of interprofessional team relationships in medicine and dentistry.
The presentation by Brennan and Pirooz explored the importance of the NP/dental collaboration in depth. Because oral health is so closely intertwined with systemic health, interprofessional delivery of services to patients can maximize the ability to work efficiently, improve access, coordinate care and ultimately deliver excellent patient treatment. Fundamental to effective working collaborations is a shared working knowledge of the disciplines to develop an appreciation and respect for the team roles and competencies.
Brennan and Pirooz also discussed the importance of interprofessional care in regard to geriatric care: oral screening/exam basics, the aging process, dental demographics, oral health, caries in seniors, the impact of medical complexities, polypharmacy, and rational treatment planning for elders; as well as pediatric care: common dental conditions in kids, importance of preventive dentistry in children, fluoride, dental care for children with special needs, how to manage dental trauma.
The opportunity for Harvard dental faculty and students to collaborate with Northeastern nurse practitioner faculty and students came about initially as part of a HRSA grant that piloted a Nurse Practitioner-Dentist Model for Primary Care. Through the grant program, students from both schools provide medical and dental care to underserved populations at Harvard’s Teaching Practices clinic. Patients have the opportunity to have both a physical examination and a dental visit, all during the same appointment.
The overall goal of these collaborative efforts is to gain insights that will lead to improved overall health care for patients.