Message from the Herman Robert Fox Dean

Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc Herman Robert Fox Dean

I begin with wonderful news: NYUCD recently completed a flawless site visit by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

After two-and-a-half years of intensive planning, the site visit team arrived in late October for two-and-a-half days of rigorous inspections, culminating in a spectacular outcome. The DDS program, the postgraduate programs, and the dental hygiene program received no recommendations, or, to put it another way, they received the highest possible score. (Read more about the accreditation site visit.) Another stellar achievement is the 100 percent pass rate for NYU dental students on Part I of the National Boards, which you can also read about here.

As this is my first chance to address many of you since the publication of our summer 2010 issue of Global Health Nexus, I want you to know about the impressive response-from both educators and practitioners-to that issue's theme on "The Rise of the New Dental Schools and the Future of the Profession." Accordingly, we have decided to run a follow-up section in this issue to enable the discussion to continue.

Lending their voices to the discussion are a group of distinguished thinkers, including Dr. David Wong, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at UCLA School of Dentistry, Director of the UCLA Dental Research Institute, and President of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR); Dr. Christopher Fox, Executive Director of the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR); Dr. R. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine; Dr. Jack Dillenberg, Dean of the A. T. Still University's Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health; Dr. Richard N. Buchanan, Dean of the University of Southern Nevada College of Dental Medicine; and his coauthor, Dr. Dominick P. DePaola, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, who adds a postscript to his article in the summer 2010 issue of Global Health Nexus.

But we begin with the theme, "The Future Is Interdisciplinary," which we believe has great relevance not only for NYUCD, but also for healthcare professional education and the provision of healthcare services as a whole. Our premise is that interprofessional education and collaboration in training the healthcare workforce of the future are essential to educating a healthcare workforce with the requisite skills to meet the healthcare needs of our growing-and aging-population.

That interdisciplinary approach is exemplified in NYUCD's partnership-now in its sixth year-with the NYU College of Nursing. At the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing, we are convinced that to be successful in an interconnected world, healthcare education and delivery must be a shared responsibility, and that every encounter must be an act of outreach, an opportunity for a patient to access the entire healthcare system.

The benefits of interprofessional education and services are very clear: When a patient goes to the dentist, he or she should be accessing the healthcare system itself. It used to be that a patient would come to the dental school with hypertension, and the first question the dental student might ask would be, "Can I do the dental procedure that I was going to do?" Now, the question is: "How can I get this hypertension under control?"

Dentists have always had a broad and sophisticated education in systemic health. To think that this innovation at NYU is introducing something new at a conceptual level to dental education would be a mistake. Rather, what's taking place is a transition from the abstract to the concrete-from the theoretical to the practical. That change is happening because of our unique NYUCD/NYUCN alliance. Together, dental and nursing students look at the overall health of the patient, in order to provide better care from both professions. Equally important, our students learn to work collaboratively, so that referrals will become more frequent when both professionals go into practice.

The establishment of a Nursing Faculty Practice at the College of Dentistry is just one of the innovative outcomes of our partnership, representing a substantial advance for patients who get their dental care at the College of Dentistry. Other developments include research on connections between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease and an innovative program to train home care nurses in oral health assessment. These and other outcomes are discussed in this issue.

The section entitled "The Future Is Interdisciplinary" opens with a profile of a recent NYUCD graduate, Dr. Michael Wilson, Class of 2005, who is embodying the concept of shared responsibility by expanding his practice to include dental as well as general healthcare services for a severely underserved population. Other articles in this section build on the concept of team effectiveness in clinical practice through enhancing the ability to listen to colleagues and collaborators.

Implicit in all these articles is an ability to envision a world in which dentistry, dental hygiene, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and other healthcare disciplines are capable of viewing themselves from a perspective of defined competencies acquired on behalf of the welfare of the patient.

To some, this may seem like an "over the rainbow" view of the world of healthcare education and delivery. But as the cover of this issue of Global Health Nexus makes clear, that's a perspective to which we aspire.

Indeed, the operative paradigm for education and training at the NYU College of Dentistry and its College of Nursing is that efforts must be made to achieve closer integration between schools of dentistry and the broader research, practice, and education communities, with the goal of generating new and vibrant research and clinical care pathways and partnerships for students and faculty.

As you read this issue of Global Health Nexus, I hope you will find that the concepts of "pathways and partnerships" resonate in its pages. In addition to learning about our commitment to provide a forum for discussion about the future of the research enterprise in dental education and the focus that we believe should be placed on interdisciplinary education and clinical care, you will read about our ongoing commitment to myriad global programs and community initiatives, and about the outstanding individuals and corporations who are making gifts to ensure our continued progress on many fronts. As always, you will also meet members of our community who are innovators in research and patient care.

As we begin the new year, I want to reaffirm NYUCD's commitment to excellence in all that we do, and to offer you and your families best wishes for a healthy, productive, and happy 2011.