A few weeks back, I attended the 2012 Chesapeake Dental Conference in Ocean City. A colleague and I operated a booth right next to the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners who were handing out some great information. One of the most interesting pieces of information I got from the Board was that in April 2011, new regulations took effect in Maryland allowing dentists and hygienists to earn up to 8 hours of continuing education credits per renewal period for performing pro bono dental services.
As with any new regulation, there are many rules and exceptions to go along. I’ve listed them all below, directly from the Board’s handout. The information can be a little dry, but I recommend reading all the way through to see if this regulation can help you gain those ever-important continuing education credits. What a great way to help those less fortunate than you and earn continuing education at the same time.
1. A dentist or dental hygienist may provide volunteer pro bono care at a Board-approved program that is a non-profit entity or event that provides substantial pro bono dental services to the indigent or dentally underserved populations.
2. With the exception of food, lodging and parking fees, a dentist or dental hygienist may not receive direct or indirect remuneration of any kind, including but not limited to remuneration for materials purchased or used.
3. With the exception of those pro bono services provided at a dentist’s or dental hygienist’s office as outlined in number 4 below, the program shall require a dentist of dental hygienist to sign-in and sign-out daily upon commencement and termination of the provision of services.
4. A dentist of dental hygienist may provide pro bono services for continuing education credit at the dentist’s or dental hygienist’s office if:
a) the patient is referred to the dentist or dental hygienist by a Board approved non-profit entity that provides substantial pro bono dental services to the indigent or dentally underserved populations
b) the dentist or dental hygienist applies to the Board and the Board provides prior written approval of the provision of the dental or dental hygiene services on an individual case by case basis
5. Continuing education credit shall be calculated based on the time a dentist or dental hygienist has actually dedicated to the performance of dental or dental hygiene services.
6. Continuing education credit shall be calculated at the ratio of 1 continuing education credit for each hour of patient services.
7. Credit may not be provided for missed appointments.
8. Board-approved non-profit entities that provide substantial dental services for continuing education credit shall:
a) retain patient records
b) retain documentation of all pro bono assignments and the hours of service provided
c) provide the records and a copy of the assignments and the hours of service provided to the Board upon request
9) The Board may revoke the approval status of any non-profit entity that fails to cooperate with the Board.
10) A dental hygienist who provides pro bono dental services shall work under the direct supervision of a dentist which means that the supervising dentist must:
a) diagnose the condition to be treated
b) authorize the procedure
c) examine the patient before dismissal
11) A dentist of dental hygienist that is employed by a non-profit entity that provides substantial pro bono dental services to the indigent or dentally underserved populations may not obtain credit for pro bono services at the entity at which the dentist or dental hygienist is employed, but may receive credit for qualified pro bono services at other non-profit entities.
12) A dentist who is a Board-recognized specialist and who has announced a specialization shall limit the pro bono services exclusively to the announced special areas.
13) In accordance with COMAR 10.44.12 (Anesthesia and Sedation), a dentist may administer general anesthesia or sedation only with the appropriate Board permit issued for the specific practice location at which the dentist wishes to administer general anesthesia or sedation.
14) A dental hygienist may administer local anesthesia by infiltration only with the appropriate Board recognition.
15) Dentists and dental hygienists who provide pro bono dental services shall:
a) maintain proof of such services for at least 5 years on a Board-approved form
b) provide documentation of the services to the Board upon request.
In addition, dentists who provide pro bono dental services in their office for continuing education credit shall maintain patient records for whose patients in accordance with the applicable law.
16) Dentists and dental hygienists who fail to maintain accurate and complete records of services rendered may not receive continuing education credit for those services.
17) A dentist shall use a Board-approved form for patients with clear instructions for any follow-up care.
18) Dentists and dental hygienists under a formal or informal Board order or agreement that provides for the provision of pro bono services may not receive continuing education credit for the provision of the pro bono services.
19) Failure to comply with the regulation constitutes unprofessional conduct.
Note that the provision of pro bono dental and dental hygiene services for continuing education credit may only be provided in connection with a Board-approved non-profit entity or event. The services must be provided either:
a) at the offices of the non-profit entity
b) at the entity’s Board-approved non-profit event
c) at a dentist’s office if the patient is referred to the dentist by a board-approved non-profit entity and the dentist or dental hygienist applies for and receives prior written approval from the Board to provide the services.
Any questions you may have about this fine program should be directed to the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners.