UAMS Center for Dental Education Welcomes Senior Dental Students from University of Tennessee for Clinic Rotations

By Nate Hinkel

Seventeen fourth-year students spent time working in the center’s Oral Health Clinic at UAMS and in the pediatric dental clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital within the past two months. In addition to observing dental procedures, they provided general dental care for patients under supervision of adjunct faculty members.

The rotations are expected to expand in 2015 to include dozens of students from the dental school in Memphis. The externship program, which differs from an internship by being shorter in duration and not including a formal certification, is part of the growing education programs at the Center for Dental Education in the UAMS College of Health Professions.

“This program expands the educational opportunities at the Center for Dental Education, giving these students nearing graduation a very comprehensive and multi-disciplinary exposure to community and hospital-based dentistry,” said William F. Slagle, D.D.S., M.Ed., director of the Center for Dental Education. “For those students that are Arkansas natives, it gives them a chance to return home for an educational experience that may encourage them to start their career in the state following graduation.”

Slagle said the experience gives the students who are nearing graduation an opportunity to work with a different patient base and in a different environment.

“We are excited for our students to have this experience — working in both the new UAMS Oral Health Clinic and seeing pediatric patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” said John Seeburg, D.M.D., assistant dean for clinical affairs in the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. “Externship experiences are becoming part of the accreditation standards for all dental schools, which makes this program a good fit for us and for UAMS.”

He and Slagle said they want to see the externship program expand to encompass most, if not all University of Tennessee senior dental students in the future.

In addition to observing and participating in dental procedures, the students are spending time in areas such as the UAMS Simulation Center. There, the students had an opportunity to gain experience dealing with major medical emergencies that might occur in a dental office through the use of realistic, highly detailed simulation manikins and programmed patient actors. Each session was taped and followed by discussion sessions focused on how the emergency was managed by the students.

The cost of the externship program is being covered in part by a $150,000 grant the center recently received from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas.

Another $100,000 in support received recently from the foundation’s parent company, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, continues the development of a dental residency program. The funds also provide equipment for the clinic, which will soon open five more exam rooms — for a total of 10 — along with a lab and sterilization area it will share with the adjacent UAMS dental hygiene program.

The Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation also has been a consistent supporter of the center and expanding access to oral health care in Arkansas. The foundation has contributed $2 million to date toward construction of the UAMS Oral Health Clinic and adjacent facilities shared with the UAMS Dental Hygiene Clinic.

The general practice residency is a next step for the Center for Dental Education, with an accreditation site visit in late summer 2014. Slagle said the plan is to achieve accreditation and welcome the first dental residents in 2015.

Hosting dental residents in the first years following graduation from dental school would give those new dentists more clinical experience while increasing the number of dentists beginning their careers in Arkansas.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.