Health Workforce Capacity
lack of progress in supplying dental health professional shortage areas
with needed professional personnel underscores the need for attention to
the distribution of care providers, as well as the overall capacity of
the collective workforce to meet the anticipated demand for oral health
care as public understanding of its importance increases.
To effect change in oral health workforce
capacity, more training and recruitment efforts are needed. The lack of
personnel with oral health expertise at all levels in public health
programs remains a serious problem, as does the projected unmet oral
health faculty and researcher needs.
The movement of some states towards more
flexible laws, including licensing experienced dentists by credentials,
is a positive one and today, 42 states currently permit this activity.
The goal of moving society toward optimal use of its health
professionals is especially important at a time when people have become
increasingly mobile, moving from town to city and state to state, and
when projected oral health workforce shortages are already evident in
many rural locales. State practice act changes that would permit, for
example, alternative models of delivery of needed care for underserved
populations, such as low-income children or institutionalized persons,
would allow a more flexible and efficient workforce. Further, all health
care professionals, whether trained at privately or publicly supported
medical, dental, or allied health professional schools, need to be
enlisted in local efforts to eliminate health disparities in America.
These activities could include participating in state-funded programs
for reducing disparities, part-time service in community clinics or in
health care shortage areas, assisting in community-based surveillance
and health assessment activities, participating in school-based disease
prevention efforts, and volunteering in health-promotion and
disease-prevention efforts such as tobacco cessation programs.
Whether individuals are moved to act as
volunteers in a community program, as members of a health voluntary or
patient advocacy organization, employees in a private or public health
agency, or health professionals at any level of research, education, or
practice, the essential first step is to conduct a needs assessment and
develop an oral health plan. Because the concept of integrating oral
health with general health is intrinsic to the goals of this Call to
Action, oral health plans should be developed with the intent of
incorporating them into existing general health plans.
Reference: U S. Department of Health and Human
Services. Oral Health in America:, A National Call to Action to
Promote Oral Health, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of
Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.
WYSDA is an association of
denturists and associates - members and nonmembers - committed to
education and advocacy in promoting the denturist profession as midlevel
oral healthcare providers through the public health media.
WYSDA is committed to national denturist licensure to ensure
accessible removable oral prostheses care, resulting in consumer
Department of Health (Oral Health Section)