Monday, 2 of May of 2016



I’m Larisa – a dentist from Toronto, Canada with an interest in all things public health and an MPH candidate here at Tufts.

While some are quick to point out that dabbling in both clinical dental medicine as well as systems level public health endeavours ensures that I never truly fit in with either group, I like to think of my dual involvement as proof that one person can encompass multiple roles and help dispel stereotypes or myths in both groups along the way.

My current area of academic interest is health disparities and poor health outcomes in vulnerable patient populations – specifically racial, cultural, and linguistic minorities. This recognized public health issue is in part due to low health literacy levels amongst these populations, as well as a failure on the part of the healthcare system to cater health messages appropriately for a low health literate audience.

The focus of my desired contribution to this field of study is on the latter, less oft studied, portion of this issue -specifically the formal training of pre-doctoral students in health literate communications. I believe that lack of training for students during the course of their pre-doctoral study composes an integral part of this public health systems issue by failing to adequately inform and develop the future workforce.


My ALE project addresses these issues as they pertain to the training of pre-doctoral dental students at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM). The purpose of this ePortfolio is to practice developing qualitative skills which are robust and appropriate for the two aims of my ALE work:

1. Examining Progress for the Recognition of Health Literacy as a Component of Pre-Doctoral Education

  • I will be working towards developing a survey which can be used as a research tool to measure the existing practices of US dental schools with respect to teaching health literacy principles.
  • I intend on conducting 2-3 key informant interviews to help guide survey development.

2. Health Literacy Curriculum Development

  • I will be developing a health literacy curriculum consisting of 3-4 lessons for 1st year pre-doctoral students at TUSDM.
  • I intend to lead a focus group with 3-4 volunteer dental students from TUSDM to better gauge the beliefs and values of this specific student population as they pertain to health literacy and patient communication. This feedback will be incorporated back into the curriculum prior to finalizing it for implementation.


I’m really looking forward to developing the skills necessary to advance these research objectives … and interacting with/learning from my classmates along the way!

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