Professor bonds social work with dentistry

Margarita Artavia

Margarita Artavia professor of practicum education at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, has four primary tenets for life in which she strongly believes and have never failed her: respect, openness, curiosity and individual accountability. Since 2016, Artavia has held a joint appointment with the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC. With vision, love of the task, and her tenets as the foundation, she developed an interdisciplinary educational opportunity that bonds social work and dentistry together.

The Associated Social Work Educational Internship Program began at the Dr. Roseann Mulligan Special Patients Clinic (SPC) where Artavia created a program providing Master of Social Work (MSW) students with clinical experience collaborating with dental faculty and students to improve service for patients. Social work interns are now also at the USC Pediatric Dental Clinic (PDC), located at the Los Angeles General Medical Center, which serves children and families who come in through resource care, formerly known as foster care, and the USC Dental Clinic at Union Rescue Mission (USC-URM) which sits in the heart of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

“The work at each clinic looks different because the population, culture and how each clinic functions is different,” Artavia said.

Artavia co-facilitates teaching modules for the behavioral dentistry course at Ostrow, and is an active facilitator for the USC Interprofessional Education Program (IPE). She works in tandem with Daniel Jacob, clinical assistant professor in dental public health and pediatric dentistry at Ostrow, who is also a licensed clinical social worker with 23 years of experience. Jacob serves as the practicum instructor for the MSW interns, providing weekly, individual supervision of the students placed at SPC and USC-URM, while Artavia oversees the interns at PDC and provides overall group supervision.