A special program in Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine offers hygienists and assistants the educational opportunity to advance their careers in dentistry by becoming an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA).
The EFDA Program, established in the early 1970s at the university, is one of the first of its kind in the country.
"EFDAs are a valuable member of the dental practice," said Shelly Feiwell, director of the Case Western Reserve EFDA Program. "In addition to expanding professional options, EFDAs can increase their incomes with the additional educational and skills training."
Feiwell and her faculty assistants, Karin Hein (Class of 1992), Kristi Graham (class of 1976) and Danielle LiPuma (class of 2003) teach the 40 students accepted annually in the program.
In the role of the EFDA, the individual is able to assist the dentist by learning the skills to palce rubber dams and pit and fissure sealants and restorations of amalgam and composite materials on teeth prepared by the dentist.
But this takes special training, which the university offers through the program, which follows the approved curriculum of the Ohio Dental Association Council on Dental Education. The curriculum prepares students to meet the standards and requirements for the required tests for board certification.
Currently the Case Western Reserve program offers one of five programs in Ohio. What sets the campus program apart is that each student has an individual workspace. The area supports teaching tooth anatomy and dexterity skills with a state-of-the-art simulator of the dental patient, lighting, supplies and materials, a supply drawer and use of instruments needed to gain the dexterity and skills for the profession.
Another unique feature is that each EFDA student begins continuous classes from August to graduation in May. Students attend class all day on either Wednesday or Friday—days when professional practices usually are closed.
During the second quarter of the program, students begin to work with patients in a number of locations from the dental school’s clinic, MetroHealth Hospital and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown.
The program also provides training with mock board exams in an atmosphere that simulates the actual state examination.
"Students can continue to work while they learn these new skills in placing restorations," said Feiwell.
To enroll in the program, the applicant must have at least two years of chair-side experience in general dentistry within the past five years; proof of status as a Certified Dental Assistant or a Registered Dental Hygienist. They must also pass an entrance examination of basic dental assisting knowledge and spatial/perceptual abilities.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.