A collaborative partnership between the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry and the NC Area Health Education Centers Program helps address the oral health needs of North Carolinians and the major issues confronting the dental profession. Through this partnership, AHEC explores and responds to the many changes in dentistry in an effort to enhance dental education, expand access, and improve the quality of dental care.
North Carolina is currently experiencing an acute shortage of dental health professionals, especially in rural and underserved areas of the state. The unmet dental needs of many populations are dramatic. As the state’s population grows with the influx of new immigrants, the number of geriatric patients continues to increase as the population ages. In addition to tooth decay and gum disease, oral health concerns of medically-compromised patients—those with HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases—pose a greater challenge to the dental profession than ever before.
AHEC dental education programs focus on student rotations that provide training opportunities in a variety of settings as well as continuing education programs that help dentists and dental team members stay abreast of the latest advances in patient care. AHEC and its partners in dentistry endeavor to provide North Carolina's dental professionals with the educational opportunities and the training programs that will help to ensure quality oral health care for the people of the state.
As the only dental school in North Carolina, the UNC School of Dentistry at Chapel Hill works through the statewide AHEC Program to provide dental continuing education and special training programs. The School of Dentistry offers a wide range of training opportunities in the AHEC regions through rotations and externships for dental students and residents. Working with dentist preceptors, these extramural programs provide supervised training in the delivery of dental care to special and underserved populations in settings such as county health departments, state institutions and correctional facilities, mental health centers, and the Veteran Administration hospitals. These important experiences satisfy the requirements of the curricula and broaden the students' perspectives related to the practice of dentistry. Students report that these experiences are among the most valuable and rewarding in their dental school curriculum.
The AHEC Program works diligently to offer programs to ensure every licensed professional can satisfy their CE requirements and responds to the ever-changing needs of dental professionals throughout the state. Continuing education activities are developed based on the needs expressed by the North Carolina Dental Society, the State Board of Dental Examiners, the North Carolina Dental Hygienists Association, the North Carolina Dental Assistants' Association, the North Carolina Dental Laboratory Association, and the local AHEC dental advisory committees.
AHEC Dentistry CE Statistics 2009-2010