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NEWS | April 19, 2013

Services collaborate on dental residency program to improve patient care

By Senior Airman Courtney Moses 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

A major milestone in the expansion of oral and maxillofacial surgical dentistry was achieved recently with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the 59th Medical Wing and the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity April 2.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, director of the San Antonio Military Health System and commander of the 59th Medical Wing; Col. Grant Hartup, director of the Air Force Dental Operations, Air Force Medical Operations Agency along with Army Col. Thomas Temple Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Dental Command and Col. Craig Willard, commander of the Army Dental Activity, gathered to sign the MOA establishing the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Programs at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The MOA established specific terms and conditions required to integrate the services' oral and maxillofacial surgery residency programs.

The Air Force program is directed by the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center while the Army program is commanded by the Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity at the San Antonio Military Medical Center on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

These programs will be combined and referred to as the San Antonio Military Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program.

The program combination will not only merge the expertise of the surgical teaching staff, but also combine the operating and sedation room facility access as well.

This program will improve efficiency and patient services by enhancing clinical experiences of graduating surgeons while increasing the availability of the oral and maxillofacial surgery staff for the patients.

The residency, which is a four-year program, will begin in July. Five residents will be selected every year, totaling 20 residents enrolled in the program at any given time.

Each graduating class will result in five fully trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons who will be assigned or deployed throughout the world providing surgical health care.

"This marks an exciting opportunity for continued collaboration between the Air Force and Army. Within the SAMHS we have made tremendous strides in the last two years to improve efficiency in health care," Hepburn said.

"This MOA proves our continued commitment to optimizing our dental training programs while developing our young professionals to work in a joint environment both stateside and overseas."

Oral and maxillofacial surgeries correct a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries and defects that afflict the head, neck, face, jaws, and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.

A recognized international surgical specialty, oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine specialties of dentistry.
"Our actions today will translate into world class health care for thousands of military beneficiaries as well as civilians in the months and years to come," Hepburn added.