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AAOM Member Highlight: Nancy W. Burkhart, Ed.D, M.Ed., BS, RDH, AAFAAOM

Nancy W. Burkhart, Ed.D, M.Ed., BS, RDH, AAFAAOM
Department of Periodontics, Adjunct Professor
College of Dentistry, Texas A&M University

My dissertation topic was on the educational needs of patients with oral lichen planus. While at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, I was a faculty member for ten years in the Department of Ecology. I had a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a master's in Occupational Health Education; I also spent a year in a fellowship program in the school's oral pathology section and finished my doctorate in education while teaching. Subsequently, I took a joint appointment at Baylor College of Dentistry in 1997, within the Stomatology Clinic and the Dental Hygiene Department. This allowed me to establish the International Oral Lichen Planus Support Group. At this time, I am an Adjunct Professor (promoted to professor in 2019) at Texas A&M College of Dentistry and still coordinate the International Oral Lichen Planus Support Group.

I recently moved to South Carolina and became a Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force-Dental Outreach member for the Tri-County's Healthcare Subcommittee Charleston, South Carolina. Both the east and the west coasts are prime areas for sex and labor trafficking of adults and children. The dental curriculum has had little to no content on this topic even though over 87% of victims are evaluated by either a medical or a dental healthcare provider during their captivity. The dental subcommittee assists victims in obtaining dental care locally. Often, this will involve extractions, dentures, restorations, soft tissue assessments, as well as cleanings and periodontal surgery.

The oral exam and dental findings are vital in assessing the total health of a patient. A trafficking victim may exhibit some relevant dental findings and soft tissue signs that may be easily discounted unless the practitioner is knowledgeable. “The eye only sees what the mind knows.”

I am co-author of General and Oral Pathology for the Dental Hygienist, now in its third edition, and a columnist for RDH Magazine since 2007. The combination of my textbook, my experience in the stomatology clinic at Texas A&M, and my knowledge gained through the Academy since 1997 is a perfect combination to present this material to dental professionals. I currently have three continuing education courses available.

Being a member of the AAOM has allowed me to continue to increase my knowledge in so many areas of dentistry, pathology, and oral health. My role in the Academic Affiliate Fellow Committee has been very rewarding. It is crucial for those in education within dental schools to draw on AAOM members' expertise and establish contacts. I continue to promote the program and see far-reaching opportunities for the members now and in the future.