GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the help of a grant from the Florida Blue Foundation, two University of Florida colleges will collaborate on a novel project to improve health care for vulnerable populations while providing valuable learning opportunities for students.
The three-year, $286,000 Advance Innovation and Promote Solutions in the Health Care System grant will allow the UF College of Nursing’s community primary care practice, Archer Family Health Care to work with the UF College of Dentistry’s on-campus clinic. Both settings care for underserved populations, who are often the most affected by a disjointed health care delivery system.
This innovative collaboration is the first of its kind in Florida. It will be led by Denise Schentrup, D.N.P., APRN, a College of Nursing clinical associate professor and associate dean for clinical affairs, and Cesar Migliorati, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., a College of Dentistry professor and associate dean of clinical affairs and quality.
The project will provide point-of-care service, a two-directional referral source and communication between both nursing and dentistry sites to solve two specific problems facing both clinics. At the student dental clinic, care is delayed for a significant portion of patients at the time of procedure due to incomplete health assessments and evaluation. Patients are redirected to their primary care provider, if they have one, to obtain a clearance to be treated. Meanwhile, about 60 percent of Archer Family Health Care’s patient population have limited access to timely dental evaluation and treatment.
To solve these problems, an advanced registered nurse practitioner will be embedded in the student dental clinic to provide immediate medical assessment, treatment and referral to primary care for dental patients, as needed. Health assessments completed immediately by the nurse practitioner would allow for dental care to continue without delay. If the nurse practitioner determines a more in-depth medical consult is necessary or if patients have an untreated chronic disease, the nurse practitioner can initiate a referral to a medical facility, such as Archer Family Health Care.
On the Archer Family Health Care side, a licensed clinical social worker will be hired to connect patients to the College of Dentistry for dental treatment.
“Underprivileged populations face many difficulties in accessing medical and dental care, which prevents these individuals from achieving total body and oral health,” Migliorati said. “With this partnership, dental students will work under professional supervision with a nurse practitioner to demonstrate a new model of medical and dental care and decrease complications for patients.”
In addition to the benefits to patients, students will be introduced to a unique interprofessional model of practice while learning how to manage medically compromised patients and how to communicate effectively with fellow health care professionals about their patient’s problems.
“This grant will create a partnership that will bridge the gap for health care services,” Schentrup said. “It will also serve as a stepping stone for future projects between nursing and dentistry and give students the opportunity to have interprofessional clinical practice experience. Student exposure to and adoption of innovative models of care are paramount to making changes in health care delivery.”
Florida Blue Foundation Vice President Susan Towler said this collaboration aligns perfectly with Florida Blue’s mission.
“This partnership between the UF colleges of Nursing and Dentistry to better treat underserved populations is an excellent example of the kind of work the Florida Blue Foundation supports,” Towler said. “This speaks right to Florida Blue’s mission to help people and communities achieve better health.”