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General Dental Practice Residents and M.P.H. Candidates Complete Federal Service Internship

Three New York Medical College (NYMC) School of Medicine (SOM) General Dental Practice Residents participated in the 2019 American Institute of Dental Public Health’ Federal Service Internship.

December 16, 2019
From left, Belinda Gaines, D.M.D. (PGY-2), Felicia Nicolas, D.D.S. (PGY-2), and Ana Kodra, D.M.D. (PGY-1)
From left, Belinda Gaines, D.M.D. (PGY-2), Felicia Nicolas, D.D.S. (PGY-2), and Ana Kodra, D.M.D. (PGY-1)

Throughout the week, the group met with leaders of federal agencies to learn roles and operations, dental research and data analysis, policy development, and how policies impact access to dental services. They visited the HRSA; the National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH/NIDCR); the Indian Health Services (IHS); the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among other agencies.

Dr. Gaines is pursuing her public health degree in part because she feels it is important to understand how dentistry is accessed by those who lack insurance. She is interested in working in a community health center setting in the future and welcomed the opportunity to learn about issues in the "background" such as budgeting, insurance and other challenges that patients face.

“I learned so much from FSI, especially what dentists can do beyond traditional clinical practice, such as getting involved in the government sector and using their knowledge to influence policy and organizations like the NIH, CDC, IHS and HRSA,” said Dr. Gaines.

She explained that the highlight of her week was attending presentations by speakers who exhibited their passion for public health dentistry and its impact on the underserved population. “In addition to practicing clinical dentistry, I would love to work on policies or programs to increase access to dental care within the Hispanic and African American communities. I also want to encourage people in these communities to consider career options in the dental field,” she said.

"The FSI was an excellent opportunity for the General Dental Practice residents who are in the M.P.H. track to apply and experience those concepts that they are learning as they pursue their M.P.H. degree," noted Joseph F. Morales, D.D.S., FACD, chair of the Department of Dental Medicine and professor of clinical dental medicine.

 “The AIDPH FSI provided a fabulous program for our dental residents who are working toward their M.P.H. degrees,” said Denise C. Tahara, Ph.D., associate professor and division director of health policy and management, School of Health Sciences and Practice. “The participating residents work with underserved communities. This was an opportunity for them to meet with the federal agencies that regulate oral public health, and learn what they can do to improve policy, access and utilization as future dental public health care leaders.”

2019 American Institute of Dental Public Health’s Federal Service Internship