Mercyhurst PA program hosts Dental Day at Carpe Diem Academy

Eighteen PA and five dental students participated in an oral health community outreach event at an elementary school that reached more than 60 inner-city kids.

Mercyhurst’s PA Program teamed up with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Dental Medicine to integrate oral health into the PA curriculum and to provide screenings and education at Carpe Diem Academy, a Mercyhurst-sponsored afterschool program.

To foster interprofessional education, dental faculty provided instruction about the relationship between oral health and systemic health as well as hands on experience performing basic oral health procedures such as the pediatric oral examination and fluoride varnish application.

“It is important that proper dental care is integrated into medical care,” said Marcie Fitzgerald, MPAS, PA-C, clinical director of the Mercyhurst PA program. “We are on the frontlines of medicine, and we need to make sure that children are getting the proper care and referrals to dentists.”

The dental and PA students then conducted screenings for dental caries and risk assessments for developing caries at Carpe Diem Academy. Through interactive activities, the children were taught about fluoride, proper hygiene, and diet; and each child was given a gift bag to practice healthy habits at home. Parents and caregivers were provided educational materials on pediatric oral health as well as dental referrals for their children, if needed.

“Oral health is not only done by the dentist, but now needs to be part of family practice and routine yearly visits,” said Alyssa Byerly, participating Mercyhurst PA student.

The Mercyhurst PA Program looks forward to continuing their relationship with LECOM Dental School and bring “Dental Day” back to the community.

This project was part of the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health. The initiative is supported by the NIIOH and its funders the DentaQuest Foundation and Washington Dental Service Foundation.  This project was funded by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Oral Health Outreach grant.

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