Using dental clinics to teach students

February 5th, 2015


Participatory learning is one of the hallmarks of a great education. Students teach themselves better through doing something rather than simply reading about it or seeing it demonstrated. Dental practitioners are no different in this regard. To be a great dentist, one must begin learning early and start by picking up on the basic techniques that will be used throughout a career. This means having a clinic either managed by the school or involving participation from local dental and oral care professionals. In order to do this, it helps to have dental enterprise software as this program can help complete the educational experience through learning how to code dental records. The transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 has been a matter of continuous back and forth, and it appears that students for the time being may have to start learning both as the current deadline for moving to ICD-10, October 2015, may be pushed back further.

Dental clinics help students the community
Currently, many students earn their chops on the dental circuit by volunteering at community organizations in groups. Others, however, have clinics. For example, the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in Southern California has its own clinic which is run by students, the Press Enterprise reported. This school chose to install a place on site which has all the necessary tools for cleaning teeth and doing basic dental work. The school offers free monthly dental help to a limited number of patients on a first-come, first-serve basis, and this helps people with lower incomes have the opportunity to get clean teeth and maintain the health of their periodontal tissue. Students work both in the capacity of dentals and oral hygienists, and they also work to ensure prompt and appropriate coding in the current standard of ICD-9.

Students have much to learn from this clinic, as the people who come for the free cleanings bring with them a range of ages and dental needs. On the other days of the month, the clinic is open to anyone who will pay a small fee to have their teeth cleaned. As such, the free clinic and the pay clinic operate out of the same space, and the records are joined together, as sometimes someone must pay for something that requires pressing attention. Thus, the full complexity of a modern dental clinic is fully modeled by this example.

The politics that surround dentistry is also an issue, as students use ICD-9 coding for the dental records so the information can be processed by insurance companies, which don't accept ICD-10. The problem is that internationally ICD-10 is the standard. This problem will only grow as the timing the transition remains a matter of political debate.

The upcoming ICD-10 deadline
According to Medical Economics, those who support a fast transition to ICD-10 have been disappointed by a constantly changing date, and now a group of dentists is fighting to ensure that even the October 2015 deadline is kept.

"Following the most recent delay of ICD-10, we heard from a number of interested parties concerned about falling behind or halting progress," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said in a statement, according to Medical Economics. "It is our priority to ensure that we continue to move forward in health care technology and do so in a way that addresses the concerns of all those affected and ensure that the system works."

Students will likely need to start learning ICD-10 soon, assuming the transition date remains the same. As such, using dental enterprise software becomes a crucial part of a good dental clinic, as it will fully simulate the challenges of learning in one code and actually working in another.

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