Bridging the Cultural Gap: Office of Minority Health Introduces e-Learning Program for Oral Health Professionals on Cultural and Linguistic Competency

New e-learning program focuses on serving diverse patient populations.

Apr 17th, 2014
Office of Minority Health Logo
Office of Minority Health Logo

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WASHINGTON, DC -- In a press release issued today, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) announced the release of the Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals (CCPOHP). The e-learning program is designed to equip oral health professionals with the knowledge and skills to serve diverse patient populations. OMH cited the program as being one of the first of its kind.

Continuing education credit is available for completion of CCPOHP. The three-course program offers oral health professionals the opportunity to gain six continuing education credits at no cost.

According to the OMH, the ultimate goal of the e-learning program is for oral health professionals to gain the basic cultural and linguistic competency knowledge and skills necessary to provide high quality, effective oral health care to all individuals.

The program was developed in conjunction with the HHS Oral Health Initiative, launched in 2010. The initiative promotes the effective delivery of oral health services to underserved populations, as well as emphasizing that oral health is an essential component to overall health. The initiative also promotes awareness and reduction of oral health disparities in minority and underserved populations.

The OMH cited the following items pointing to the need for progams like CCPOHP:

  • Oral health disparities remain high among certain racial and ethnic groups.
  • Public health implications of persistent oral health disparities are striking: Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that lead to additional problems in daily activities such as eating and speaking.
  • African American and Mexican American adults are more likely than Caucasian adults to have untreated dental caries. (Dye et al., 2007)
  • Racial and ethnic minority youth are more likely to be uninsured and have more unmet dental needs than Caucasian youth. (Flores & Lin, 2013)
  • Oral health disparities are associated with reduced overall quality of life.

According to OMH, CCPOHP is grounded in the principles of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care (National CLAS Standards). It is designed for a broad range of oral health professionals, including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants.

To learn more about the program, including access to CCPOHP, visit oralhealth.thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov.

Related information can also be found at www.ThinkCulturalHealth.hhs.gov and www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

OMH contact: Elizabeth Perez, elizabeth.perez@hhs.gov, (240) 453-6180

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