The project will implement activities by August 31, 2026 by embedding racial and social justice within the oral health system through workforce development that includes: 1. activities to build the capacity of oral health professionals and students entering oral health careers to understand and operationalize equity strategies and person-centered care in their practice; 2. to develop shared power through multidisciplinary and multisectoral coalitions that solidify the connections between oral and physical health to increase access to oral health care for underserved groups; 3. to create pathways for connecting historically excluded communities such as individuals of color, rural and urban dental health professional shortage areas (Dental HPSAs) and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups with oral health care providers who are culturally responsive and patient-centered; and, 4. to utilize data, evaluation, and continuous program improvement to identify disparities, the root causes, available resources, and operationalizing the information to reduce barriers to oral health care in rural and underserved areas and to increase oral health care utilization rates through workforce development strategies. The project focuses on four goals that include: Goal 1: Develop and implement one or more innovative programs to meet the oral health workforce needs of Dental HPSAs in PA. by infusing equity into dental school curriculum at oral health professional training schools by facilitating eight annual training sessions on oral health issues facing underserved populations to reach 1,000 students; provide community-based prevention services and expand the oral health workforce by increasing the number of certified community health workers trained to provide oral health education in Dental HPSAs by 8%; promote oral health integration with pediatric telemedicine visits through the development of a framework for integrating oral health into telemedicine visits th
at is developed and tested by 50 providers in Dental HPSAs throughout the project period; develop and implement a multisector oral health workforce community of practice (CoP) that meets at least bimonthly throughout the project period to engage in workforce development and planning activities that strengthen the state’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, workforce development issues, and to sustain and scale innovative practices. Goal 2: Evaluate each innovative program for use in continuous quality improvement, assessment of outcomes and achieving desired results, and to inform key decision makers by engaging in outcome and impact evaluation that results in the use of data by oral health stakeholders that guides continuous quality improvement, program assessment, and sustainability of effective strategies. Goal 3: Sustain effective strategies beyond the period of federal funding and scale the adoption of innovative programs among state oral health stakeholders by reviewing and identifying strategies to support the financing and sustainability of project strategies resulting in a landscape assessment and a Sustainability Action Plan by project year-four that informs program priorities, policy, and additional investment. Goal 4: Implement administrative activities that ensure project implementation and sustainability by working across two DOH bureaus to increase the ability of the DOH to identify, assess, and track workforce shortages and upon funding, initiating the start-up process and complete hiring, subgrant, and contracting process within the first 90 days of funding. The strategies and objectives of the project will reflect the goal of the HRSA Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities to address the dental workforce needs of Dental HPSAs.