The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s coverage from the 2018 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ annual meeting in New Orleans. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading PAs in many specialty areas. Check back for ongoing updates from AAPA 2018. 

NEW ORLEANS — Physician assistants (PAs) are working to provide better oral health care to their patients, but there is still room for improvement, according to research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) 2018 conference. 

Denise Rizzolo, PhD, PA-C, of the AAPA Special Interest Group PAs for Oral Health, the Physician Assistant Education Association, and Kean University, and associates conducted a mixed-design initiative to collect qualitative and quantitative data in a 6-year period to analyze the impact of incorporating oral health aptitudes for nondental providers.

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During the study period, more than 500 PAs collaborated in the research program. In 2008, 33% of responding PA programs delivered instruction; in 2017 the percentage increased to 78%. By 2015, nearly a third (32%) of PAs reported that they were presented with oral disorders on a weekly basis. 

“The research suggests that PAs are making great strides towards improving oral health in the patients they serve, but there is still room for improvement,” reported the authors. “Collective impact, especially a common agenda, shared measurement, and mutually reinforcing activities, is a successful strategy to build PA workforce capacity along with other healthcare professionals to mitigate the adverse effects of poor oral health.”

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Rizzolo D, Lord CB, Ziegler O, Flick T. Building physician assistant oral health workforce capacity: a six-year retrospective. Presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2018 conference; May 19-23, 2018; New Orleans. Poster 82.