ACT trainees will spend between 2 to 3 days per week in the clinic and one to two additional days observing and assisting faculty. The didactic curriculum is extensive because little of the required pain sciences are presented in pre-doctoral or post-doctoral training programs. A practitioner in orofacial pain needs a strong background in the basic and applied pain sciences. Topics include neurology, neuroanatomy, neurological examination, behavioral medicine, neurobiology of pain, neuropathic pain, headache disorders, musculoskeletal and myofascial pain disorders, pharmacotherapeutics for pain and pain management, occlusion and TMJ disorders, sleep apnea and orofacial dystonias.
Clinic experience is hands-on following an observational, probationary period that depends on demonstrating competency. In the clinic, patients may be treated individually or in a team-based fashion as dictated by availability of chairs and patients. Furthermore, the number of patients seen by Advanced Clinical Training trainees will depend on many variables to be determined by the clinic director and staff. Initially, more TMD patients with symptoms of arthralgia and myofascial pain may be assigned, and then the patient assignments may be expanded to more chronic pain profiles. The UCLA program gives treatment experience of the whole spectrum of orofacial pain conditions rather than limitation to screening, diagnosis, and referral for treatment.
Once established in the program, trainees will be responsible for patient care, documentation, writing reports to referring doctors, follow-up to patient calls, and urgent care. Trainees may work with faculty treating patients as well as attending other classes and preparing seminar and case materials. Trainees will share on-call pager duties with the orofacial pain residents when considered qualified by the clinic director.
Many students also extend or combine their studies to obtain an advanced degree (MS or PhD) in oral biology, which requires a separate application. Please refer to the Oral Biology Graduate programs for more information.