Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Florida International Alumna Honored for Oral Health Research

Dr. Claudia A. Serna, a 2014 alumna of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Department doctoral program at Florida International University’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, is the recipient of this year’s American Public Health Association (APHA) Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Post-Professional Award. She will be presented the award during the APHA’s Annual Meeting in November.

[Photo: Dr. Claudia A. Serna]

Dr. Serna also won third place in the 2017 Leverett Graduate Student Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dental Public Health from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD).

Both awards applaud Dr. Serna’s work during her dental public health residency with New York University–Lutheran Dental Medicine, where she was responsible for the planning, statistical analysis and writing of the article entitled, “Dental-Related Use of Hospital Emergency Departments by Hispanics and Non-Hispanics in Florida.” The article was published in the 2017 June edition of the American Journal of Public Health’s (AJPH) Oral Health Supplement.

The article examines differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in dental-related use of hospital emergency departments (EDs) and suggests mechanisms to reorient care for better individual and community outcomes.

The findings in her study are consistent with earlier reports indicating high use of EDs for dental problems in the United States and in Florida. Findings for the state and by region suggest that Hispanics in Florida are less likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts to seek care in hospital’s EDs, despite results from other sources indicating that their oral health is poorer.

Dr. Serna’s research represents the only detailed study of dental-related EDs use among Hispanics in the U.S. Further studies among ethnic minorities need to focus on the complex interactions between sociodemographic, behavior, health status, and patterns of access to care that appear to be associated with visits to EDs.