Oral Medicine and IPE: Time for Leadership, Dr. Scott S. De Rossi, DMD, MBA

There are numerous challenges facing dental education. In fact, as Dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, I can assure you that the list gets bigger by the day. However, one of the most pressing issues for our dental profession and one where our American Academy of Oral Medicine can play a leadership role is in inter-professional education (IPE) and collaborative practice (CP). The reality is that the traditional pre-doctoral dental curriculum will be woefully inadequate if it is not already. IPE will prevail and there is no better group to champion this than oral medicine specialists. Our motto is “integrating medicine and dentistry” and our specialty is and has always been about collaborative practice. We must champion, help design, and implement “integrated curricula” at our universities across all health sciences that builds on the values, knowledge, and skills of a health professional through innovation, creativity and interprofessional delivery of care. At our home  institutions, we must help break down barriers by extending our dental school footprint across the campus, lead the education of inter-professional teams together, maximize usage of clinical skills and patient simulation centers, help develop faculty facilitators of IPE and CP across all disciplines, and help create new and collaborative venues within all aspects of healthcare.

A term used in business but rarely embraced by healthcare providers is “disruptive innovation”. The term, coined by Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. IPE will be a disruptive and innovative force and we should lead it. In academic medicine and dentistry, we must evolve the practice of dental medicine to focus on “integrated care delivery” while being “person-centered” and providing “value added” by focusing on how what we do as clinicians, educators, and researchers, contributing to our school, university, city, state, nation, and world. As oral medicine specialist, we can urge collaboration ensuring our schools are integral players in creating truly integrated teams and bringing them together physically and safeguarding that we truly “integrate medicine and dentistry to promote optimal health” like no other. 

Dr. Scott S. De Rossi, DMD, MBA

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