Minnesota partnership receives ADEAGies Award for Vision for advancing dental therapy education

The William J. Gies Foundation has named the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, and the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, as recipients of the 2016 ADEAGies Award for Vision by a Public or Private Partner, in recognition of their combined efforts to develop dental therapy education in Minnesota. Presented annually by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Gies Foundation, the award is the profession’s preeminent recognition of exceptional contributions that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research and service.

In 2008, Minnesota passed legislation that authorized the licensure of dental therapists (no sooner than 2008) and one year later passed legislation that defined the level of supervision, education, scope of practice and regulation of this new profession. Both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system launched dental therapy education programs, admitting their first classes in 2009. The state’s first dental therapists graduated in 2011.

Both programs educate students to practice as a member of the oral health care team and to provide a single standard of care for patients, as evidenced in the state’s licensure requirements for supervision and the requirement that dental therapists pass a CRDTS licensure examination that mirrors the exam taken by dentists. Minnesota dental therapists are licensed by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. At this time, the Board also approves Minnesota’s dental therapy education programs using a combination of self-study that reflects the goals and requirements of dental therapy education, a site visit and an accreditation report. The Board also provides additional direct oversight of dental therapy education in Minnesota.

“No other state has yet developed dental therapy education programs, although legislation authorizing licensure has passed in Maine and has been under recent consideration in several additional states,” says Leon Assael, dean of the School of Dentistry. “Clearly there will be an increased demand for education of dental therapists. Minnesota has led the way in developing these educational programs, approving them in Minnesota, and seeking and achieving a national accreditation process through CODA.”

Presented annually by the American Dental Education Association Gies Foundation, the Gies Awards are the profession’s preeminent recognition of exceptional contributions that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research and leadership. The Procter & Gamble Company is the premier sponsor of the awards.

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry representatives, along with colleagues from the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities and the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, will accept their award on March 14 at the ADEA Annual Session in Denver, Colorado.  

Gies 2016
ADEAGies Award