A new oral health elective for medical students at the University of Washington

Teach Learn Med. Fall 2006;18(4):336-42. doi: 10.1207/s15328015tlm1804_11.


Background: Oral health is an important but inadequately addressed area in medical school curricula. Primary care practitioners are in an ideal position to help prevent oral disease but lack the knowledge to do so.

Purposes: We developed an oral health elective that targeted 1st- and 2nd-year medical students as part of a previously described oral health initiative and oral health curriculum.

Methods: To promote interprofessional collaboration, we utilized medical-dental faculty teams for lectures and hands-on peer instruction by dental students for clinical skills.

Results: Evaluations revealed positive shifts in attitudes toward oral health and significant gains in oral health knowledge and self-confidence. Students rated the course highly and advocated for further integration of oral health into required medical curricula.

Conclusions: We describe the elective including curriculum development, course evaluation results, and steps for implementing a successful oral health elective into medical education. We highlight interprofessional collaboration and constituency building among medical and dental faculty and administrators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Oral Health*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools, Medical
  • Washington