While Dr. Thomas Duffy was attending the University of Washington School of Dentistry, he took part in a unique program that he continues to benefit from. This special program, named RIDE (Regional Initiatives in Dental Education) emphasizes early clinical skills, a broader skill set often called for in more rural or underserved areas, and direct collaboration with multiple health care specialties.
“I chose the RIDE program for several reasons. It offered an increased focus as a ‘super generalist.’ We were able to jump into the clinical setting more quickly to gain more time with patients, thus expertise more quickly. And we were able to provide dental care to those who otherwise might not be able to get it.”
In rural settings family doctors, general surgeons and dentists are often put in positions of providing care for a broader range of conditions than their urban colleagues. Consequently, the RIDE program exposes its students to more complex cases and a wider range of procedures to treat them.
Examples include root canals, dentures and extractions, Dr. Duffy explains. He does these procedures regularly as a part of his care at Peninsula Family Dentistry, thanks in part to his training.
“In more populated areas, general dentists often refer patients out for these services. The additional training as a RIDE participant gave me what I needed to develop these proficiencies. Additionally, my RIDE-program peers and I experienced an earlier confidence than our colleagues who didn’t participate in the program.”
Dr. Duffy’s UW dental school experience was expanded by the RIDE program. He spent his first year of training in Spokane, where he collaborated with other health specialties–learning how various health conditions impact a person’s dental health and vice versa. He also was introduced to the clinical experience in Spokane and while taking Seattle classes via distance-learning technology. Following further schooling at UW Seattle, all RIDE students spend five months at a community health clinic in a rural setting. Dr. Duffy was based in rural Chelan, providing dental care under the supervision of the clinic’s lead dentist.
Following graduation, Dr. Duffy spent his first five years practicing with another dentist in Shelton, another rural community that sees patients from Mason, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. If you want to learn more about Dr. Duffy, read his bio here.