UNM Department of Dental Medicine
Faculty from the University of New Mexico's dental hygiene and dental services programs will be involved in educational and clinical efforts supported by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services $2.5 million grant.
Credit: John Arnold

The University of New Mexico School of Medicine’s Department of Dental Medicine has received a $2.5 million grant to create additional educational and clinical opportunities for UNM’s special needs dental clinic.

The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration will provide a special needs coordinator to oversee the academic program and direct patient care experiences for dental residents enrolled in UNM’s accredited dental residency program. Faculty from both dental hygiene and dental services will be involved in educational and clinical efforts supported by the grant.

“With this support from HRSA, we will coordinate an educational program for community dentists in New Mexico in areas of special needs dentistry to provide intellectually and developmentally disabled patients in the state of New Mexico more qualified oral health providers,” says Vicki Pizanis, RDH, an assistant professor in the UNM School of Medicine and principal investigator for the grant.

UNM’s evolving dental program will increase student training in patient care specifically, while improving access to dental care in UNM Hospital operating rooms for special needs patients. The HRSA funding also will support the creation of a second-year dental residency curriculum in specialized areas of interest, like:

  • treating patients with special needs;
  • improving inter-professional education in oral health evaluations skills for the school’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner Program;
  • enhancing a special needs training program for dental hygiene students enrolled at UNM; and
  • offering inter-professional rotations to interested advanced nurse practitioners.

The School of Medicine’s Department of Dental Medicine includes 48 dental hygiene students and 10 general dentistry residents.