Jamie Burgess-Flowers, MSW, LCSW, was recently appointed as the UNC Adams School of Dentistry’s social work care coordinator. While her primary appointment is in the UNC School of Social Work, she will spend most of her time at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry.
“Very few, if any, dental providers have a full-time social worker on staff to help with patient care. The same can be said about dental schools throughout the country,” said Head of Oral Medicine, Katharine Ciarrocca, DMD, MSEd.
“As there can be barriers for patients to obtain comprehensive oral healthcare, Carolina Dentistry patients now have access to Jamie to connect them with appropriate services to improve treatment adherence and completion. She also has expertise in trauma-informed care and will be able to help train the next generation of oral healthcare professionals in this unique approach to patient care.”
Burgess-Flowers is a licensed clinical social worker and earned her Master of Social Work degree from the UNC School of Social Work in 2016. She has worked in both clinical and program development roles in the healthcare field.
She most recently served as a behavioral health consultant at Scott Community Health Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center with Piedmont Health Services.
While there, she provided direct clinical patient care and primary care provider consultation as a member of the rural interdisciplinary primary care team.
“By integrating a social worker onto the oral health team, the Adams School of Dentistry is demonstrating their investment in not only improving patient health outcomes, but also student education on whole-person health,” said Burgess-Flowers.
“We expect to see patients more satisfied with their care, and more graduates who feel confident in asking and addressing difficult questions.”
At the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, Burgess-Flowers will work to establish social work services. Specifically, she will focus on:
- Connecting patients with appropriate services related to mental and behavioral health (outpatient therapy, psychiatry, substance use disorder treatment, etc.)
- Connecting patients to community support services for assistance with basic needs (housing, transportation, finances, childcare, etc.)
- Mental health crisis intervention (acute grief, suicidality, etc.)
- Providing brief counseling for smoking cessation and other health behaviors that negatively impact oral health
- Consulting with dental students on best practices related to patient-centered and team-based healthcare
Eventually, she will work on integrating graduate social work students within Carolina Dentistry to help her provide these services to patients. Burgess-Flowers’ overarching goal is to address barriers to care with patients in order to help patients maintain and complete their treatment.
“With this new model of oral health care delivery, we will be able to address social determinants of health and barriers to care prior to patients beginning treatment, which will set both the patient and student up for better treatment outcomes.”