Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health care providers who practice medicine under the supervision of physicians. Little information about the specific training for physician assistants is available. The American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Association of Physician Assistant Programs recognize family violence as a public health epidemic in the United States and encourage PA programs to include violence prevention, assessment, and intervention in program curricula. Physician asssistants sometimes participate with medical students in medical school coursework, some of which contains content on family violence. One example of curricula at Nova Southeastern University, Florida, includes three hours of lecture and case presentations on diagnosis, treatment, counseling, prevention, and legal requirements for all types of family violence.
Data are scarce about dental education on family violence, regardless of specialty. The available data show that dentists are becoming aware that they encounter victims of family violence but often do not recognize the signs of abuse and are uncertain about how to intervene (Chiodo et al., 1994). A study in Oregon showed that dentists who graduated from dental school after 1980 were more apt to have received family violence education than their colleagues who graduated earlier (Chiodo et al., 1994). In one study comparing the formal education available to physicians, nurses, psychologists, and dentists, the dentists reported the least amount of formal education on all areas of family violence— this was most notable in education on elder abuse (Tilden et al., 1994). A survey of the 64 accredited dental schools in North America, however, indicated that 96 percent of preprofessional dental students are taught to recognize and report child maltreatment. The majority of schools taught about child maltreatment through the pediatric dentistry rotation, with most providing one or two hours for teaching this subject (Jesse, 1995). In another survey, 43 of 55 predoctoral pediatric dental programs reported including the subject of child maltreatment in their curricula (Posnick and Donly, 1990).
Prevent Abuse and Neglect through Dental Awareness (PANDA), a pioneer program in Missouri, is a coalition of social service and health agencies, professional dental organizations, and dental schools that develops education and training programs for dental health practitioners. PANDA programs have been established in other states as well (Ramos-Gomez et al., 1998; Hazelrigg, 1995). A similar group, the Dental Coalition to Combat Child Abuse and Neglect, was formed in Massachusetts to educate dental professionals about how to detect and report cases of child maltreatment. The coalition conducted an intensive statewide program that included educational materials on child maltreatment, intensive media coverage, oral slide presentations at state society meetings, and