Do you excel at treating young children and those with special health needs?
As a second year pediatric dental resident at VCU, I’ve been adding to my education by completing training through the VA-LEND program (Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities—a 12-24 month curriculum of interactive seminars, clinical and community-based practica, planned grassroots and systems level policy activities, and for most trainees, a family mentorship experience). Through my LEND training, I have been working to research solutions to one of the major dental care issues families face today—access to care for patients with special needs.
Through my family mentorship experiences as well as a brief literature review on “Barriers to Dental Care Experienced by People with Special Health Care Needs (SHCN),” I’ve learned that the transition period from pediatric to adult centered care is particularly difficult for patients with disabilities. One of the largest, and most easily addressed, barriers to this transition for these patients and their families is to simply find a dentist available to treat them.
As you may or may not remember, the Virginia Department of Health began compiling a directory of dentists willing to provide care to adult or child patients with special needs in 2008 through a questionnaire sent by the Department of Health and the Virginia Dental Association. Listings and updates to current listings in the Virginia Dental Directory for Individuals with Special Health Care Needs and Young Children (SHCN) are provided voluntarily by the dental providers themselves. I hope that by raising awareness of this issue and this directory, we can increase the number of listings in the SHCN directory and facilitate the transition of dental care for families across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
If you are comfortable treating this population or if you are already treating this population, please add or update your contact information at: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/livewell/findadentist/.