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The Ohio State University College of Dentistry  

About the OHIO Project

The College of Dentistry was the recipient of a 5 year, $1.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to become A "Pipeline Profession and Practice" program. The end result is a  program titled, The OHIO Project “Oral Health Improvement Through Outreach” (OHIO) and is under the co-directorship of Drs. Canise Bean and Hilary Soller.

The OHIO Project has two broad goals: first, to change dental education so that by the end of a student's 4th year in dental school he or she will have spent at least 50 days of their clinical education in community-based sites providing services to an underserved population.  Secondly, to increase the number of underrepresented students within the dental profession. Although the primary emphasis is on the general dentistry graduate, we involve residents and dental hygiene  education also.

The College’s community-based education initially involved four primary community-based sites; Nisonger Center, the Columbus Health Department, the Cincinnati Health Department, and Children’s Hospital. Over time the program has grown to over 20 sites across the state of Ohio to include Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

The OHIO Project has required the College to look at changes in the clinical and didactic curriculum to meet its objectives. The grant had an initial year of planning during which curricular changes, arrangements with external sites, and relationships with community partners were established. This has been a college-wide effort, with participation by the Curriculum Committee, Admissions Committee, Outcomes Committee, Sections, and the Division of Dental Hygiene.

Students work in community-based sites such as clinics, hospitals, and private practices, all under the supervision of dentists who will be adjunct clinical faculty of the College. The program provides for an exchange of community-based and College faculty, periodic updates, calibrating, and sharing of information.

The RWJ grant program represented a great opportunity for the College of Dentistry to advance dental education. The fifteen funded schools have developed programs that serve as a models for dental education in the areas of recruitment and access to care. Ohio provides the ideal setting for this program with its significant dental access problem and professional and government commitment to solving the problem. We now know that by placing our students in the community, we can give them a sense of the oral health needs of Ohioans, build stronger relationships with our practice colleagues, enhance the future dental workforce, and provide a model for dental education.