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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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General Practice Residency in Dentistry: Curriculum

The Dental Service of the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center sponsors two positions for a one year, General Practice Residency Program.  Beginning July 1, the program is designed to provide the dental graduate with a graduate level instructional curriculum in general dentistry.

Our staff resources include two oral surgeons, one endodontist, three general dentists, one periodontist, one maxillofacial prosthodontist, three prosthodontists, with all individuals being experienced in hospital dentistry. Additionally, the program utilizes the services of off-station consultants to supplement the instructional curriculum.

Location, availability of patients, and staffing has directed the major emphasis of the program towards the management of the medically compromised dental patient. This is not to imply that the dental disciplines are not stressed. Indeed the resident has the opportunity to gain significant experience in all disciplines with the exception of pedodontics and orthodontics. (Limitations being placed on these by our regulating authorities and the nature of our patient population.)

Organizationally, the program is divided into clinical, didactic, and administrative areas.

The clinical phase or clinical rotations of the program comprises the bulk of the curriculum. It includes twenty-four weeks assigned to general dentistry, 12 weeks in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and rotations through anesthesiology (4 weeks), dental oncology (5 weeks) and emergency room medicine (2 weeks). The dental oncology rotation takes place at MD Anderson Cancer Center located in close proximity to our facility. During the general dentistry rotation the resident works one-on-one with our periodontist for one day a week for 6 months and with our endodonist for one half day a week for two months. The objectives of all clinical rotations are provided later in this packet.

The didactic activities support the clinical aspects of the program. There is a rather intensive history and physical course taught at the VA. Other lectures are held in conjunction with the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston GPR and AEGD programs and include a wide variety of topics emphasizing a multidisciplinary approach to treating our patients. Monthly the residents present formal treatment planning cases to our VA professional staff and other VA residency programs.

The administration of the program is based around the need for documentation of curriculum, resident evaluations, and the commitment to evaluate the program on a continuing basis as a means of change and improvement.  Residents participate in formal quarterly reviews of the program curriculum and objectives and take an active role in the selection of new residents. Continuing throughout the residency year, staff dentists, rotation mentors, and the program director evaluate resident on stated professional and clinical standards. This is done to provide the Program Director and staff with a continual flow of information that can be used to improve the program and the individuals involved in it.

The program’s overall objectives are to graduate residents that are able to:

  1. Evaluate, diagnosis, manage and treat ambulatory, non-ambulatory and medically compromised patients through a multidisciplinary oral health care approach.
  2. Function effectively within the hospital and other health care environments.
  3. Continually strive to expand their dental knowledge base by critically reviewing literature thereby improving their clinical skills.
  4. Evaluate and treat most dental emergencies.
  5. Appreciate the importance of providing dental resources to the community (i.e. community service).

In conclusion, the program will graduate residents that are well-trained hospital dentists with a good command of general dentistry, confident in their abilities, and knowing their limitations. The program provides them with an excellent basis for future professional development in general dentistry or specialty training.

Stipend: $45,000 (approximate) 

VA is committed to an aggressive, affirmative policy to ensure equal employment opportunity and advancement to all qualified persons. Federal antidiscrimination laws are followed and enforced. Both the letter and the spirit of equal opportunity are observed in employment, assignment, and training opportunities. Federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex national origin, age (40 and over), or mental or physical disability.