CDA Foundation awards first community clinic student rotation grants to Dugoni School of Dentistry

School received $550,000 to support rotations in two health professional shortage areas
December 13, 2023
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The Dugoni School of Dentistry will use the awarded $550,000 to establish clinical rotations for senior students in the school’s Doctor of Dental Surgery and International Dental Studies programs. With the new CBCE rotation sites operating at satellite dental school sites, dental students will have the opportunity to work alongside staff dentists to provide clinical care and gain experience with vulnerable populations including people with special health care needs. California’s dental schools have the opportunity to be awarded up to $1 million each to expand their CBCE rotation sites in underserved communities throughout the state.

The CDA Foundation has awarded the first Community-Based Clinical Education grant to the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to expand oral health care at three community health centers in California while providing dental students with new clinical opportunities.

The Foundation announced the grant, which is being administered in partnership with California’s Office of Oral Health, early this year following CDA’s successful state budget advocacy in 2022. California’s seven dental schools have the opportunity to be awarded up to $1 million each to expand their CBCE rotation sites in underserved communities throughout the state. The sites can include federally qualified health centers and large private offices.

The Foundation will also pilot grant-funded dental clinics at or near the selected sites. Serving as the new CDA Cares model, the clinics will prioritize the placement of patients into dental homes to address their full oral health care needs.

$550K to establish senior student rotations at sites in Merced and Napa counties

The Dugoni School of Dentistry will use the awarded $550,000 to establish clinical rotations for senior students in the school’s Doctor of Dental Surgery and International Dental Studies programs.

The students in these programs will participate in two-week rotations at the Livingston Community Health campus in Merced County and at two OLE Health clinics in Napa County. The three locations serve patients who reside in dental health professional shortage areas designated by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. Dental HPSAs can be geographic areas, populations or facilities that have a shortage of primary, dental or mental health care providers and may include a significant low-income population, for example.

With the new CBCE rotation sites operating at satellite dental school sites, dental students will have the opportunity to work alongside staff dentists to provide clinical care and gain experience with vulnerable populations including people with special health care needs.

Under dentists’ supervision, the students will deliver preventive and general dental procedures including exams, cleanings, fillings and emergency care.

“While patients will benefit from the care, our dental students will also benefit from the experiences they will receive working with patients from a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Nader A. Nadershahi, DDS, dean and vice provost of the Dugoni School of Dentistry.

Grants will be awarded to other dental schools to establish or expand clinic rotations

The school can apply for up to $1 million dollars through June 2026 to support new community outreach rotations. Additionally, the Foundation will work with California’s other dental schools to expand their student rotations in dental HPSAs to improve access to quality care and build a dental care workforce that can serve the state’s current and growing demand for dental services.

Simultaneously, by hosting dental clinics at sites already equipped to provide oral health care, the Foundation’s new CDA Cares model can be hosted more frequently and in more remote areas of the state, thereby increasing patient access to care and reducing patient travel time.

The former large-scale CDA Cares clinics provided care to over 30,000 Californians and boosted state and local decision-makers' awareness of inequitable access, which in turn helped advance improvements to the Medi-Cal Dental Program. Now, dentists’ increased participation in Medi-Cal means an increased capacity for more dental homes.

The expansion of CBCE sites and coordinated CDA Cares clinics into areas of the state that need additional dental care capacity not only alleviates immediate oral health care needs but over time will also expand the quantity of care provided through patient placement into dental homes.

Earlier this year, Richard Graham, DDS, CDA Foundation board chair, said the new CDA Cares model reflects an important juncture in the evolution of the Foundation’s clinic work and addresses continuing changes in the care system. 

“We will also show how that system of care can be further expanded and improved while still maintaining a meaningful philanthropic outlet for a profession that is deeply committed to giving back to the community,” Dr. Graham said.

The Foundation will continue to announce additional Community-Based Clinical Education grants awarded to California dental schools and will provide details of the first two CDA Cares clinics operating under the new model in 2024. 

Learn more about the mission and programs of the CDA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the California Dental Association.

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