PAEA Past President Anita Glicken Receives Award for Innovation in Oral Health

Former PAEA President Anita Glicken, MSW, was among the recipients of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Gies Foundation Awards for Vision, Innovation and Achievement in Academic Dentistry and Oral Health, presented during an online ceremony on Friday, July 24. Glicken accepted the William J. Gies Award for Innovation on behalf of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (NIIOH), of which she serves as executive director.

Glicken has been a longtime advocate of oral health, going back at least to her days on the PAEA Board of Directors, where she served as president in 2007. In 2009, she launched the PA Leadership Initiative on Oral Health, which brought together elected and staff leaders of the four national PA organizations as well as the national student academy to mobilize the unique potential of the PA profession to enhance oral health care and reduce oral health disparities. Glicken notes that the PA profession is now a widely recognized leader in oral health, with the PA profession having the highest percentage — 96 percent — of programs integrating oral health and the highest number of curriculum hours of the 12 professions surveyed in 2017 (more details about the study are available in this JPAE article).

Jon Bowser, MS, PA-C, PAEA’s immediate past president and a colleague of Glicken’s at the University of Colorado, contributed to the video that was submitted with the NIIOH application. “Oral health is such an important part of primary care curriculum,” said Bowser.

The Gies award follows another recent honor for NIIOH, the George E. Thibault, MD, Nexus Award in 2019, which recognizes “exemplary interprofessional collaboration in the United States and those who are thinking and acting differently where practice and education connect in health systems.” These two awards, said Glicken, “suggest we may be reaching a tipping point in oral health integration following a decade of work on behalf of NIIOH and its partners.”

In a brief speech accepting the award, Glicken noted the opportunity presented by the current disruption to higher education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: “[It] provides a unique opportunity to think differently about the future and the way we work together. Collaboration is key; we can’t have an integrated care system that treats the whole person by continuing to work in silos.”