Course prepares dentists to treat children worldwide
By by Master Sgt. Kimberly Spencer , 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 24, 2007
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Officials from the 59th Medical Wing are teaching a Pediatric Dentistry Course to help general dentists from smaller clinics learn new techniques for treating children during the two-week course that ends Sept. 22 at Lackland AFB, Texas.
The in-residence course provides training to Air Force dentists when there are no pediatric teaching programs available at their location.
The training includes instruction in population health/public health dentistry, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, endodontics, oral pathology and deployment dentistry. Students receive hands-on training at Dunn Dental Clinic and Wilford Hall Medical Center, where the course has been taught for 18 years.
"We accept six funded students each year," said Col. (Dr.) John Embry, 59th Dental Squadron pediatric dentistry director and course director. "This year we have students from the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy and the United States.
"Lackland has proven to be an ideal location due to the availability of billeting, a good teaching facility (Dunn Dental Clinic), access to needed instructors (six different specialties), a hospital and operating room (WHMC), a large patient pool and wonderful South Texas weather and hospitality," said Colonel Embry.
"As a dentist at a CONUS base, we get little opportunity to treat pediatric patients. Overseas, our pediatric patient population is significantly larger and our knowledge needs to reflect that," said Capt. (Dr.) Jan Shirley, a course resident from Royal Air Field Upwood, United Kingdom. "Even though we have all been trained in pediatric treatment during our education, a course like this updates our treatment practices and prepares us to deliver treatment appropriate to our population."
"As a young general dentist in Korea, the course gave me the confidence and skills needed to provide 95 percent of all pediatric dental care required by our patients," said Col. (Dr.) Timothy Halligan. The 59th Aeromedical Dental Group commander graduated in 1988 from the first class held at Lackland AFB.
"The course is invaluable for teaching the increased skills needed to provide quality dental care at small clinics that do not have the dental specialists like we have at Lackland," said Colonel Halligan. "I still use many of the techniques I learned in the course today."
Any general dental officer can apply, however, preference is given to junior dental officers, many who are contemplating applying for additional long-term training in pediatric dentistry.
"This course has proven a great asset to overseas dental commanders and provides needed services to the many thousands of overseas dependents," Colonel Embry said.
Col. (Dr.) Julie Collins, the pediatric dentistry director for Keesler AFB, Miss., is the course deputy director and helps develop curriculum and lectures. Associate faculty members are Col. (Dr.) Richard Rutledge, Col. (Dr.) Craig Fowler, Col. (Dr.) Joseph Bartoloni, Lt. Col. (Dr.) John Dossett and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Signorelli, all from the 59th MDW.