I was invited by Burton L. Edelstein, DDS, MPH, Professor of Dental Medicine and Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Medical Center, to share his “14 New Year’s Resolutions” on the directions of dental care and dental health policy since the advent of “accountable” health reform with a group of 5-year dual degree DDS-MPH candidates. The recent exchange he had with the students was both vibrant, energizing, and stimulating, with one upside summary being, “You addressed a range of critical themes important to them, raised their levels of understanding, and got them going. Afterwards they joked about starting their own collective, female-powered enterprise. Behind every joke is a kernel of truth so you never know.”
One downside theme to emerge, however, was how little dental education has changed since I received this degree 38 years ago, and how little the dental profession is aware of the demands and the dynamics of the present, and future, healthcare environment. It is still quite sobering to note that this elemental component of primary care remains at the far edges of the healthcare universe, in need of the right entrepreneurs with the right start-up models to redefine the way dental care is delivered in this country.
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