A pilot interprofessional program to promote oral health and wellness in Appalachian children

Janie Heath, Rachelle Aker, Hartley Feld, Ronald L. Singer, Jim Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In a first of its kind authentic clinical interprofessional education (IPE) experience, University of Kentucky (UK) health profession students joined dental students to implement a pilot program to promote oral health and wellness with children living in underserved Appalachian communities. Known as hCATS (Health Colleges Advancing Team Skills) to Appalachia, a total of 113 students participated in interprofessional teams of 48 health profession students paired with 65 dentistry students to provide health services. Although the UK College of Dentistry has provided sealant services (tooth decay prevention) to elementary school children for several decades in eastern Kentucky counties, funding through the UK Women and Philanthropy Network allowed services to expand to include general health screening and age-appropriate education on oral health, nutrition, exercise, and prevention of substance abuse. The UK Center for Interprofessional Health Education (CIHE) coordinated the efforts for students from the colleges of Communication and Information Sciences, Health Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work. In addition to the clinical experience in the elementary schools, nursing and other health profession students explored the health resources of the communities visited and reflected on their experience in collaborative practice that the program was designed to encourage. The authors noted positive outcomes with interprofessional education competencies, although more structure for collaboration is required to ensure students who work with other professions in an authentic clinical setting can gain early relevant practice in, and experience the benefits of, collaborative patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-416
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Appalachian health
  • Authentic clinical practice
  • Clinical service learning
  • Interprofessional education
  • Oral health
  • Rural outreach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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