For students interested in pursuing a career as a public health dentist or learning about the impact of dentistry on the health of populations, earning a dual DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) and MPH (Master of Public Health) may be an educational consideration. Read on to learn more about the degree, some core courses, and admission requirements for these programs.
DMD/MPH Dual Degree Programs
At many dental schools, it is possible to pursue the DMD and MPH as a dual degree program. Both degrees can be completed in four to five years. Students typically complete the first year of study in the DMD program and then begin MPH coursework during the second or third year of study. Clinical experience is an important component of dental programs, and students pursuing the dual degree should expect to perform dental work in a range of clinical settings.
Graduates of dual degree programs are usually qualified to pursue their residency in the field of public health dentistry, potentially leading to board certification in dental public health. Those employed in the field of public health dentistry may work to improve oral health within a range of populations. They could evaluate ways to provide access to dental care to traditionally underserved populations, promote preventative dentistry, or seek research or academic careers.
Students pursuing the dual degree program will encounter a wide range of coursework. Read on to find out some of the interesting classes that participants may encounter.
This course can provide those who aim to work in the field of public health an introduction to statistical methods and the applications in health research. Specific topics may include hypothesis testing, sample size, and descriptive statistics. The use of statistical applications and programs could be covered as well.
Public Health Ethics
Those who wish to improve the health of communities must know how to accomplish that in ways that consider ethical, legal, and legislative outcomes. This course may analyze the key considerations within ethical public-health decision-making. Students could also consider case studies and current examples to best understand these concepts.
Community Health Initiatives
A course in community health initiatives may help students to understand the steps of beginning a new community health program, including planning and implementation. They could also come to an understanding of how to properly evaluate new initiatives. Collaboration with the community at all stages of the process might be a consideration.
This type of course might help dental students explore medications that could affect dental care. Students may take a look at the physiological functions of a wide range of drugs, as well as their therapeutic and toxic effects. Potential interactions might also be a topic.
Dentists play an important role in the prevention and treatment of caries, or decay. This course may introduce students to the etiology, diagnosis, and classification of caries. Treatment regimens, including sealants, fluoride treatments, and oral hygiene may be reviewed. Students may begin to practice the removal of caries by hand and with instruments.
Oral Health Care Systems
This course may introduce students to the provision of oral health throughout the United States. Students could be introduced to methods of funding, such as government, community agencies, private financing, and insurance. Other topics of study might include professionalism, practice management, and barriers to care for underserved groups.
Admissions to DMD/MPH programs can be competitive. Those who are interested usually will first apply and be admitted to the DMD program. Candidates can apply through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service. They will need to submit a personal statement, transcripts and recommendations. Candidates must also sit for and provide the results of the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Usual prerequisites for prospective dental students include chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics. Some schools may also require English, anatomy, or biochemistry. Students must also be able to demonstrate manual dexterity skills, such as those developed by playing a musical instrument, knitting, or drawing.
Upon beginning their course of study, students then apply to the MPH program at the end of their first or second year of dental studies, depending on university requirements. Typically, students must receive an endorsement or recommendation from their DMD program and then submit complete application materials to the MPH program. Upon acceptance, students will be enrolled in the dual degree program.
Earning a DMD and MPH as part of a dual degree program can provide students a broad understanding to these closely interconnected fields and reduce the length of time to complete both degrees. Those pursuing this degree will be introduced to core and elective coursework in both areas of study, in order to gain a wide perspective for oral public health care.