WSU Partners with U of U Dental Program to Help Underserved Communities

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University’s Department of Dental Hygiene is partnering with the University of Utah School of Dentistry to elevate learning opportunities and provide care to underserved populations in northern Utah.

“This endeavor is an ideal educational approach at many levels,” said Dr. Yasmen Simonian, dean of the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions (DCHP). “It will promote interprofessional education for both dental students and dental hygiene students at the U of U and WSU. Students will provide care to clinical patients and deliver a full range of dental services focused on underserved populations.”

The partnership will allow both programs to extend comprehensive care to Utahns with limited access to dental services, such as low-income families, blind, disabled, 65 and older, those living in rural areas, and Medicaid patients.

“This is a major step forward in our school’s ability to address the oral health care needs of underserved populations throughout Utah,” said Dr. Rory Hume, dean of the University of Utah School of Dentistry. “Our school and university are delighted to have developed such a strong and collegial partnership with the excellent people and program at Weber State University,” 

During the academic year, five dental students from the University of Utah and five dental hygiene students from Weber State will regularly visit the partnering campus to work in cross-disciplinary teams, providing patient care and simulating private dental practice. Interprofessional education focuses on teaching students how to provide team-based, collaborative care for better patient health. 

“We are really excited about this opportunity because it is great for everyone,” said Kelly Ganzen, U of U dental student. “We get to work with hygienists, and they get to work with dentists. Patients don’t have to wait for care. The goal is that the hygiene students will have their patients and do their work, and then if patients have needs like fillings, we could just do it right away instead of making them wait.”

The arrangement developed through the School of Dentistry’s commitment to the state legislature to combine interprofessional educational experiences between students in state entities while providing care to underserved populations.

Funding from the state legislature has provided the School of Dentistry the opportunity to establish partnerships with four state dental hygiene programs: Dixie State University, Weber State University, Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College.

“I think it’s fantastic because it gives us an opportunity to show the dental students how we learn, and then we get to see how they do things,” said Cherise McAllister, WSU dental hygiene student. “It is a little crowded and a little hectic in the clinic, but that is all part of the process. It’s teaching us how to work together and get along, which will help create a more cohesive dental practice in the end.

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Allison Barlow Hess, Public Relations director
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