Since 2001, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has invested in addressing two significant issues for oral health care—expanding access to dental care for underserved patients and increasing diversity in the dental profession. The ADEAGies Foundation paid tribute to RWJF’s vision and dedication to oral health and dental education with a 2009 William J. Gies Award for Innovation.
This prestigious honor, named after dental education pioneer William J. Gies, Ph.D., recognizes RWJF’s support of the Pipeline, Profession & Practice: Community-Based Dental Education (Dental Pipeline) program.
The Dental Pipeline program focuses on reducing disparities in access to dental care and boosting the enrollment of underrepresented minority students in Dental Pipeline schools.
“Reforming our nation’s health care system demands an investment in human capital—the people who deliver care, teach, and champion change,” said Fred Mann, RWJF assistant vice president of communications, at the Gies Award presentation held in Phoenix, Ariz., on March 14 in conjunction with the 86th annual ADEA conference.
The national program office based at Columbia University administers the Dental Pipeline program. Through a network of Dental Pipeline schools, students receive clinical experience in treating patients from underserved communities while also taking courses in cultural competency and public health.
The Dental Pipeline program was launched in 2001 with a five-year collaborative grant from RWJF, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The California Endowment. The program is currently in its second round. In this new round, the program has added eight new schools to the Dental Pipeline network and bolstered student recruitment and retention efforts.
This pioneering program has made remarkable strides. By funding 23 out of the 57 dental schools in the country the Dental Pipeline has placed dental students and residents into 237 community clinics and increased student diversity exponentially.