Mertz E, Spetz J, Moore J. Pediatric Workforce Issues. Dent Clin N Am. 2017;61(3):577-588.
According to the US Surgeon General, dental disease is among the most prevalent health conditions for children, and large disparities in oral health status and access to oral health services exist among children in the United States. In 2003, the National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health outlined the need to increase the diversity, capacity, and flexibility of the dental workforce in order to better meet children’s oral health needs and reduce disparities. Assessing progress toward the Call to Action, in 2009 the authors found only modest gains in workforce strategies focused on pediatric patients, and major challenges remaining. In 2009 the Institute of Medicine held a workshop on the sufficiency of the oral health workforce for the coming decade, which outlined the status of the dental workforce, and highlighted for the first time the multitude of new workforce models being proposed and tried. A special issue of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry entirely focused on the contributions of workforce innovations to delivery system redesign followed, with one of the key messages being that workforce design should be tied directly to meeting the patient care needs, with special attention to reducing disparities in oral health care, and in oral health. As 2017 begins, progress has been documented in children’s use of care primarily because of improvements in coverage through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This article updates and synthesizes the evidence on clinical pediatric workforce models and discusses future directions and implications for health policy.