The College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center recently received $80,000 from the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry (TN AGD) in support of its continuing education program that helps expand dental care in the state.
The funds will help support the Expanded Functions for the Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) continuing education program, which trains and certifies registered dental hygienists and dental assistants to perform certain procedures currently done by licensed dentists, thereby expanding dental care in Tennessee. This includes some restorative or prosthetic functions, including placement of fillings, temporaries for crowns, and making impressions for various fixed and removable dental procedures.
“We in the College of Dentistry and the EFDA program are grateful for the generosity of the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry,” said Jerry McKinney, DDS, assistant professor in the Department of General Dentistry and director of EFDA. “Part of the UTHSC College of Dentistry’s mission, as well as the TN AGD, is to prepare for the future needs of the citizens of the state of Tennessee. Even now, there are areas of the state where access to dental care is not available.”
K. Michael Garrett, DDS, MAGD, at-large board member of the TN AGD, said an RDA with a modified license for EFDA markedly enhances the ability of general dentists to provide greater access to care. “The dentist can see more patients and do more procedures versus a dentist who does not have an RDA with this credential,” he said. “The impact of this training program allows many more Tennesseans to have access to quality oral health care.”
The EFDA certification has been in high demand since the continuing education course launched in 2006. Accepted students face a waiting list from one to four years before they can begin the program. In January, the UTHSC College of Dentistry’s EFDA program will double the number of participants enrolled in the continuing education course. Increasing enrollment up to 210 students in the EFDA restorative course, and 40 in the EFDA prosthetics course.
“This has become a prestigious credential in dental assisting,” Dr. Garrett said. “The commitment of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry and Director Dr. Jerry McKinney to essentially double the number of classes, has been applauded across the state.”
Lynne Moore, MPA, director of the Continuing Dental Education Office, said the college is grateful for the TN AGD’s commitment to support the College of Dentistry’s EFDA Program in the Office of Continuing Dental Education. “With this collaboration, we are able to utilize these funds to continue our mission by providing quality continuing education courses to licensed dental professionals, increase the productivity in dental offices and improve the oral health care of Tennesseans,” she said. “My goal is to strategically allocate these funds to support the needs of the program, update equipment as needed, and work with the instructors to provide each participant with the best experience possible.”
The restorative and prosthetics EFDA courses are open to licensed dental hygienists and registered dental assistants currently licensed with the Tennessee Board of Dentistry with a minimum of two years of continuous full-time employment within the past three years in a dental practice as a practicing dental assistant or hygienist.
For more information on the UTHSC EFDA course contact the UTHSC College of Dentistry Continuing Dental Education Office or visit, https://www.uthsc.edu/dentistry/ce/index.php.