Dr. Judith Haber has always been a change agent. She was one of the first advanced practice psychiatric nurses in the United States. She’s written and co-authored award-winning textbooks, including Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice, and Comprehensive Psychiatric Nursing, a classic known as the “Haber book.” A leader in education innovation, Dr. Haber brought the winds of change as associate dean for graduate programs at NYU Meyers, launching the first nurse practitioner-managed primary care practice at NYU Dentistry—the nation’s first Nurse Practitioner & Dentist model. “Our goal was to bring those two professions into alignment...to put the mouth back into the body and, specifically, back into the head for all health professions,” she says.
Today, Dr. Haber is the executive director of the Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) program, a national nursing initiative that has integrated oral health into undergraduate and graduate nursing programs throughout the country. “By working with clinicians in practice settings, OHNEP establishes best practices related to integrating oral health with acute care, home care, and long-term care for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and midwives,” says Dr. Haber. That goal is further supported by OHNEP’s extensive interprofessional knowledge hub, which offers “turnkey” products —including Smiles for Life, the only comprehensive oral health curriculum in the United States for health professionals.
But Dr. Haber’s groundbreaking work doesn’t stop there. Her greatest achievements include her 50-year service as an educator, one that “she takes pride in, having played a major role in preparing multiple generations of nurses to be exemplary professionals and nursing leaders.” She’s received widespread recognition for her research contributions to breast cancer and mental health, authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on nursing, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine. As a member of the Santa Fe Group’s Board of Directors, and its sole nurse representative, she’s also part of a national coalition to advance dental care as a medically necessary benefit for Medicare recipients.
Outside the educational arena, Dr. Haber thinks “there’s still a big frontier to conquer, and that’s the practice frontier.” Key to accomplishing this endeavor will be the nation’s four million nurses whom Dr. Haber believes can affect the change needed to link oral health and overall health in education and clinical facilities. “Until oral health becomes a required standard of care that’s included in every electronic health record, every primary and acute care practice, and every health-care system, we will not have finished our job.”