DCG students must log hundreds of hours of supervised patient care before earning their degrees, and the Department of Patient Services is determined to optimize the process for both students and patients.
The department’s six patient care coordinators (PCCs), as well as a team of office specialists, keep multiple balls in the air at all times to ensure a seamless, efficient and effective experience for everyone involved.
“Our students begin treating patients their sophomore year,” says Dr. Alan Furness, assistant dean for patient services. “Juniors typically provide comprehensive care for about 15 patients on average, and the number doubles their senior year. The patient coordinators are there to keep them on track and make sure they have a balanced patient population.”
Members of the public can apply for treatment in the student clinic (costs are generally about a third of the price of private practices), and the coordinators vet the applications to match students with the variety of experiences required for graduation. This includes everything from fillings and extractions to more complex procedures.
“My own family has been treated in the student clinic,” Furness says. “Anyone can apply, and the treatment, completely supervised by our faculty, is excellent.”
As exacting as the patient coordinators’ job is under the best of circumstances, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the challenges exponentially, says Furness, noting that the staff has risen admirably to the occasion. “A lot of procedures have had to be postponed, and our PCCs have addressed the questions and concerns of both students and patients,” Furness says. “They moderate and manage those encounters calmly, compassionately and professionally.”
Adjustments to the new normal in the era of Covid remain ongoing, but Furness applauds his staff for their resilience. “They’re extremely helpful, always with a positive attitude,” he says. “We couldn’t ask for a better staff.”
For more information about the DCG Student Clinic, visit www.augusta.edu/dentalmedicine/patientservicesnewpatients.php.