Integration of an oral health curriculum into a physician assistant program

J Allied Health. 2011 Spring;40(1):19-24.


Objective: The purpose of the study was twofold: to evaluate the implementation of an oral health curriculum to physician assistant (PA) students through interdisciplinary education with dental hygiene faculty; and identify which parts were most important in changing the PA students' knowledge regarding oral health.

Methods: Didactic and laboratory sections were offered. Data collected were from a pre/post-test of 24 items answered on a 5-point Likert scale, reflecting an attitudinal measure of students' (n = 43) ability to apply and understand the oral health curriculum. Chi-squared analyses determined if a relationship existed between answers on the same instrument before and after instruction.

Results: Students perceived they improved their level of understanding on all topics. Data were organized from the largest change in perceived competency (≥ 70%) from pre to post-test (8 items), moderately changed (60-69%) (6 items), and least changed (35-59%) (10 items). The items with the largest change included monitor impact of medications on oral tissues, recognize caries and oral lesions that require referral, and recognize signs/symptoms of gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Conclusions: The curriculum enhanced the perceived oral health competency of these PA students and their ability to recognize oral signs/symptoms that may impact a patient's general health.

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education
  • Curriculum*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Oral Health*
  • Physician Assistants / education*
  • Program Evaluation