The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has released the results of the three-year Macy Study New Models of Dental Education in a special supplement to the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Dental Education (JDE). Funded by the Josiah H. Macy, Jr. Foundation, the study emerged out of concerns about declines in dental school budgets and the challenges schools faced in meeting their educational, research, and service missions. The Macy Study proposes new clinical education models to help schools meet these challenges.
"Resources to continuously upgrade schools are in short supply, and new investments in the educational institutions are needed to maintain the high academic standing of the profession," said Allan J. Formicola, D.D.S., M.S., Macy Study Co-director and professor of dentistry and former dean of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
The project's goals were to examine the economic and political feasibility of new models of dental education and to convene a national meeting of experts and leaders from stakeholder organizations to discuss them. In April 2007 a convocation was held at Emory University and was attended by 50 national leaders from dental education, research, and practice. The special supplement presents the papers and discussion from the convocation.
"The clinical education models were developed based on several principles. They hold that dentistry is a learned, self-regulating profession; the majority of dental schools should be based in research universities; dental schools must have adequate resources to meet the scholarly mission of their parent universities; and dental schools are part of the safety net to provide care to underserved patients," said Howard L. Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D., Macy Study Co-director, Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and Research Associate in the Department of Community Dentistry at Columbia University's College of Dental Medicine.
Many options for improving dental school finances and education were examined, but the most feasible are to convert dental school teaching clinics into patient-centered delivery systems in which faculty-clinicians provide patient care while supervising residents and students. This model will cover the costs of operating clinical programs, including faculty salaries and at the same time provide dental residents and students an excellent education. Another strategy examined was basing a portion of senior dental student and resident training in patient-centered community clinics and practices. The evidence suggests that both models reduce the cost of dental education, increase student and resident clinical experience, and provide more care to underserved patients. Most important, these new educational models will generate the resources schools need to invest in their teaching, research, and service programs.
"The Macy Study provides guidance for the direction dental education should take in order to sustain and improve the already high level of education dental students receive and to further improve the oral health of the public," said ADEA President James Q. Swift, D.D.S.
ADEA members can access the report through the member portal at http://info.adea.org .