Skip to content Skip to navigation

Dentistry researchers present innovative, multi-disciplinary projects

From left, John Girdwood, Professor Margherita Fontana and Emily Yanca with their poster presentation at the Health Professions Education Day.

Associate Professor Mark Fitzgerald discusses a research project with Paula Moldovan, who said she plans to apply to the School of Dentistry in the current application cycle.


Adrienne Lapidos, left, and Anne Gwozdek, center, discuss their research with Mary Wright of the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.

U-M Health Professions Education Day emphasizes interprofessional collaboration

Ann Arbor, Mich., June 2, 2016 – Eleven poster presentations by School of Dentistry faculty and students were among the featured displays at the University of Michigan’s second annual Health Professions Education Day this week.

Several of the dentistry presentations focused on interprofessional collaboration and education, part of a major push by the school and university, as well as a trend in health professions and higher education across the country.

Dr. Mark Fitzgerald, associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics, spent much of his morning in the Michigan League ballroom sharing the findings of research that focused on “Incorporating Oral Health into Primary Care.” The study, conducted at a hospital in Flint, Mich., examined how introducing interprofessional collaborative care and interprofessional education among dentistry and nursing students improved the students’ attitudes and performance, as well as patient treatment outcomes.  The study found that the educational model improved team performance in a clinical setting, improved their perception of their communication and information-sharing abilities, and was well-received by patients. Researchers hope to expand the model to other health care centers across Michigan in order to include more students from dentistry, medicine, social work and occupational therapy.

Dr. Margherita Fontana, professor in the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics, John Girdwood, research area specialist, and Emily Yanca, data and clinical study manager, represented their group of researchers in discussing “Successful Implementation of Dental Preventive Strategies in the Medical Clinics via Interprofessional Education and Training.”  With an overall goal of reducing caries among young children, the research emphasized the importance and advantages of oral health training for medical residents and providers, which leads to greater confidence among doctors as they confront oral health issues in their patients.  Successful steps included identifying an “oral health champion” to engage staff, including attending physicians and medical residents, to actively contribute to the successful integration of oral health care.

A dental hygiene research project was promoted at the event by Anne Gwozdek, clinical assistant professor and director of the DH graduate and degree completion programs, and Adrienne Lapidos, assistant research scientist and adjunct lecturer in the School of Social Work.  Using a grant from the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the educators created “A Social Work Course for Dental Hygiene Students in Community-Based Outreach Rotations.”  The addition to the DH curriculum grew out of discussions with students who encountered a variety of unexpected and difficult treatments and social interactions with patients, often low-income, at outreach clinics.  The new course brought a greater focus on topics such as cultural competence, social determinants of health and health equity, and encouraged the students’ personal reflection about their outreach experience.

Other School of Dentistry presentations at the June 1 event included topics such as the “Process for Selecting Software to Support Complex Clinical Education,” “A 4-year Analysis of Student Self-Assessment of Preclinical Restorative Tooth Preparation,” and “LGBT Coverage in Dental Schools and Dental Hygiene Programs:  Results of a National Survey.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for health at Grand Valley State University, who discussed a number of interprofessional collaboration efforts at her university, including the Midwest Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research Center, online programs and other initiatives designed to improve and expand the role of interdisciplinary teams in the delivery of health care.

Lead sponsors for the Health Professions Education Day are the Division of Professional Education in the Department of Learning Health Sciences and the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education. Organizers say the event is designed to bring together scholars, practitioners, researchers and students from across U-M’s nine health science schools to share and learn about best practices in interprofessional education.  The emphasis is on continuing to grow collaborations between health science schools and across the wider university and various campuses.

For more pictures of the 2nd Annual HPE day, visit the UMSOD flickr page: