Industries across the globe continue to watch intently as the dental industry, thought of as a barometer for the country’s post-pandemic recovery, reopens its doors to the public. But as our community returns to work, dental professionals—and their patients—are feeling anxious about the particular risks faced in our industry.
As the founder of onDiem, a national on-demand dental staffing platform, it’s my job to not only listen to dental professionals’ concerns, but to take them seriously. Here’s a small sample of the frequently asked questions my team has received from the professionals on our platform:
- If my daughter has been exposed to somebody, do I come to work that next day?
- If a team member goes to a restaurant and finds out the restaurant was compromised, do they go to work?
- How can I afford to take care of my special needs child if I’m forced to quarantine for 14 days?
These questions indicate a high level of uncertainty on basic safety standards in the dental workplace. They also show the concern about what we should do collectively to keep people safe on the job.
Many competing voices
Safety guidances for the dental industry have been issued by state boards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Dental Association, among others. This information can sometimes feel overwhelming and daunting for our professionals. As an industry that values evidence-based work and adherence to strict standards of excellence, we are already inundated with information from countless sources. But during our global pandemic, that flow of information has widened to include a myriad of documents on safety and the mitigation of risk. There is also confusion when guidances conflict or become outdated. The result is a cumbersome and time-consuming process for professionals to manage information.
Now more than ever, the dental industry needs consolidated and reliable information on best practices. Without it, dental professionals cannot efficiently and easily manage the various risks involved with the global pandemic.
The Smart Safety COVID-19 course
To address this issue, we’ve collaborated with leaders in our community to create the Smart Safety COVID-19 course.i This free COVID-19 basic training module, now available to all professionals through onDiem and Higher Learning Technology (HLT) platforms, provides dental professionals with a general understanding of COVID-19 so they feel more equipped to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their patients. Dental professionals who use onDiem’s staffing platform and complete the course will receive recognition on their profiles, which can be viewed by prospective employers.
After completing the module, participants will be able to:
- understand the etiology of SARS-CoV2;
- describe the clinical presentation of SARS-CoV2;
- identify sources and routes of COVID-19 transmission; and
- recognize measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission in dental practice.
Forca Healthcare and Bioshield Healthcare have led the charge in content development for the course, ensuring that it provides resources and information that are reliable, up to date, and easily implemented across dental practices and clinics. Contributors include Mohamed Ahmed Syed, DDS, who is a public health expert and the CEO of Forca Healthcare. Dr. Syed is also the leader behind a number of safety-related medical device innovations, such as a dental syringe that prevents needle stick injuries and cross infections. Dr. Ryan Lee, a dental oncologist and implantologist for the US Army National Guard, also provides his expertise as the co-medical director of BioShield Healthcare, which provides safety, compliance, and COVID-19 preparedness services.
The Smart Safety COVID-19 course relies on the delivery mechanism of HLT, a Silicon Prairie startup that has revolutionized and streamlined learning and certification preparation for dental and medical students across the globe. As a key collaborator in this project, HLT ensures that the course responds to our community’s need for safety in a thoughtful manner, with intuitive, user-friendly, and engaging design. This is critical for an industry that has always experienced a degree of discord in delivering streamlined information.
“The era of COVID-19 has changed the job of health-care professionals, and the world is still figuring out how to respond to that,” explains Alec Whitters, cofounder and CEO of HLT. “It's a critical problem facing the world right now. I think that we can play an important role in helping get high quality, credible information out there that makes an impact.”
The Smart Safety COVID-19 course is part of the larger Care for a Better Tomorrow campaign, which is led by a community of changemakers focused on transforming health care through a mouth-first approach. Coalition-building with key innovators in dentistry and health care—including BlueIQ, Dentira, American Dental, and The Leadwell Network—helps us work through the mental, physical, and societal changes dental professionals face today. Charles Mitchell, president of onDiem, puts it this way: “To be able to have a coalition focused on creating an opportunity and making a difference in a much bigger way with greater impact—I think that's how you create true, lasting, and sustainable change.”
i. For interested practitioners, professionals, and practices, the Smart Safety COVID-19 course will launch on September 15, 2020. For more information and to access the free course, please visit careforabettertomorrow.com.