Software tools help universities improve dental care in rural areas

November 15th, 2013

Dental hygiene academic software may have the potential to improve the quality of oral health care Americans receive in areas that are prone to medical professional shortages. Universities already play a major role in influencing the distribution of trained health care providers across the country. Efforts to extend services to rural areas and other remote regions can function more effectively with dynamic, centralized management software systems.

According to Bangor Daily News, a newspaper published in Bangor, Maine, the University of New England recently announced the creation a new dental school further downstate in Portland. The so-called College of Dental Medicine will be the first ever oral health care program in northern New England. Last month, the university celebrated its official opening with 64 inaugural students.

"This is one of the largest areas in the country that doesn't have a dental school," James Koebel, dean of the school, told Bangor Daily News. He said previously, the closest oral health program in the region was in Boston.

Fostering long-term dental care in rural New England
Administrators behind the development of the University of New England's College of Dental Medicine expect the program to be a reliable source of trained oral health professionals for the region. Koebel explained it's often hard to encourage graduates of programs in large urban areas to pursue career opportunities in small rural regions that are often in need of better health care options. The creation of a dental academic program has the chance to eliminate many of these problems. For example, rather than applying to out-of-state universities, students from the region who are interested in dental careers can instead attend the new college in Portland. Bangor Daily News said people who leave their home states to pursue higher education rarely return to seek employment.

"If we can create a dental program in Maine and recruit from rural areas, especially Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, train them locally, get them into clinics in their fourth year, we can increase chance of them practicing here," Koebell said.

Leveraging dental hygiene school software to address specific regional needs
Technology can help academic institutions achieve long-term goals of expanding health care options to rural areas in a variety of ways. For example, active clinics targeted toward residents in small towns can be seamlessly integrated with other student management operations at separate locations. Rather ran relying on multiple systems, software for dental hygiene schools can encompass all daily tasks in one centralized portal. These tools also make it easier to update course curricula according to the unique needs of the region. According to Foster's Daily Democrat, a newspaper published in New Hampshire, recent trends in the oral health industry have leaned toward expanding the role of the dental hygienist to encompass more responsibilities. Such a movement may be especially helpful for residents of rural areas who often already suffer from a shortage of medical options. Dental hygiene universities all over the country can utilize advanced software programs to ensure students graduate with the proper skills necessary to meet the demands of patients in remote regions. 

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