UAMS Welcomes First Dental Residents

By Kelley Cooper

Ashley McMillan, D.D.S., a Little Rock native, and Michael Dienberg, D.D.S., of Racine, Wisconsin, were selected for the residency program hosted by the Center for Dental Education in the UAMS College of Health Professions. Residents will receive 12 months of advanced education from faculty dentists while providing dental care at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the student-led UAMS 12th Street Health and Wellness Center and the Harmony Health Clinic in Little Rock.

Creating the residency program, accredited earlier this year by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, was a goal of the Center for Dental Education when it was established in 2012 as a hub for dental education programs at UAMS. The center also operates the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation Oral Health Clinic on the UAMS campus, where the residents will see patients.

“As our inaugural dental residents, Dr. McMillan and Dr. Dienberg will help our UAMS dental program take a big step forward as they gain valuable experience across a number of unique patient settings and in an interdisciplinary environment alongside physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals,” said Gene Jines, D.D.S., director of the Center for Dental Education.

Both of the dental residents said they were attracted to the opportunity to gain experience providing dental care for hospital patients. Some of their initial cases involved providing dental exams on patients as part of the medical clearance process prior to surgery.

“I want to ensure I have the skills to be a comprehensive practitioner, able to provide dental care to patients in any setting,” said McMillan, who received her dental degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in 2014.

Dienberg, a 2015 graduate of the Marquette University School of Dentistry, pointed to an emergency medical course he took while in dental school and a professor who strongly encouraged dental residencies before a new dentist began their own dental practice. “This is a great opportunity for me to gain experience working with hospitalized patients — but I know this residency experience will be so much more than that,” he said.

Niki Carter, D.M.D., associate professor in the Center for Dental Education and residency program director, completed a residency herself after graduating in 1988 from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. The Arkansas native served a one-year residency at Humana Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, before returning to Arkansas to begin her dental practice.

“Completing a residency assists new dentists in the transition from academics to real-world dentistry,” said Carter, who also is director of the oral health clinic. “The education opportunities for dental residents at UAMS are multifaceted: dentists provide treatment of commonly encountered oral health conditions as well as preventive care in our oral health clinic. Specifically, we will train residents to provide care for a variety of patients, including special needs and those who are hospitalized.”

In the UAMS clinic, dental residents will join clinic staff that includes faculty dentists, registered dental hygienists and registered dental assistants. Highlighting the interprofessional aspect of the residency, the dental residents attended UAMS orientation alongside medical residents.

The dental residents also will complete two-week rotations in medical programs including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine and otolaryngology along with a four-week rotation at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The rotations are in addition to seeing patients in a hospital operating room who cannot be seen in the oral health clinic, typically due to medical reasons.

The program will expand to six resident dentists per year after the first year.