Dental hygiene schools prepare for the future

October 29th, 2013

Dental hygiene school software has the opportunity to position today's academic institutions as leaders in a continuously evolving health care industry.

How has the oral hygienist profession changed in recent years?
As clinics throughout the U.S. place a stronger focus on providing high-quality, preventative care to patients, graduates of dental hygiene programs must have a strong interdisciplinary understanding of overall human health. Recent federal legislation has aimed to expand the number of Americans who have access to health insurance, meaning dental clinics must prepare themselves to handle an increase in patient activity.

Changes at the university level
As a result, many academic institutions have taken steps to update their existing facilities. According to KBIA, an NPR affiliate based in Missouri, recent changes at A.T. Still University in Kirksville are representative of the direction the overall health care industry is likely to take in the near future. Rather than isolating the university's dental and medical programs, administrators recently announced the two programs will now be sharing a building at the nearby Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health. The station reported A.T. Still's administrators recognized a unique opportunity for collaboration among students and faculty who work in similar fields but with different specialties.

"There's a movement within the country for health care professions education to move in a professional direction," Chris Halliday, dean of the dentistry school, told KBIA. "And the reason why dentistry is involved with inter-professional education is that oral health is integral with overall health. One of our former surgeon generals stated it best: You cannot have good overall health if you do not have good oral health."    

To accommodate the dental and medical students, the university funded a complete renovation of the oral health building to feature state-of-the-art technology, as well as a curriculum that includes new and innovative training programs to prepare students for an increasingly interdisciplinary professional landscape.

Elsewhere around the country, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has almost completed a large-scale renovation of its School of Dentistry building. Birmingham Business Journal said university officials announced earlier this month that the dental school's faculty practice clinic is already up and running. The $2.4 million renovation of the facility includes 14 dental operation bays and contains a multitude of new technology and equipment.

Connecting moving parts with dental software
Academic institutions have an opportunity to further enhance their existing programs by investing in new management technology. For example, advanced software for dental hygiene schools can make it easier for programs such as A.T. Still's Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health to easily integrate operations with existing medical programs. As students take on a more interdisciplinary curriculum, software tools are also able to streamline the management process by offering an automated system through which faculty can enter grades, track performance and store course materials.

Similarly, these tools often provide students with a chance to gain hands-on experience utilizing electronic health records and other digitized systems that most professional clinics have utilized in recent years.

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