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J Dent Educ. 2007 Apr;71(4):450-62.

The influence of "new science" on dental education: current concepts, trends, and models for the future.

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1
Department of General Dental Sciences, Marquette University School of Dentistry, Milwaukee, WI 53233, USA. Anthony.Iacopino@Marquette.edu

Abstract

Advances in all aspects of science and discovery continue to occur at an exponential rate, leading to a wealth of new knowledge and technologies that have the potential to transform dental practice. This "new science" within the areas of cell/ molecular biology, genetics, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and informatics has been available for several years; however, the assimilation of this information into the dental curriculum has been slow. For the profession and the patients it serves to benefit fully from modern science, new knowledge and technologies must be incorporated into the mainstream of dental education. The continued evolution of the dental curriculum presents a major challenge to faculty, administrators, and external constituencies because of the high cost, overcrowded schedule, unique demands of clinical training, changing nature of teaching/assessment methods, and large scope of new material impacting all areas of the educational program. Additionally, there is a lack of personnel with adequate training/experience in both foundational and clinical sciences to support the effective application and/or integration of new science information into curriculum planning, implementation, and assessment processes. Nonetheless, the speed of this evolution must be increased if dentistry is to maintain its standing as a respected health care profession. The influence of new science on dental education and the dental curriculum is already evident in some dental schools. For example, the Marquette University School of Dentistry has developed a comprehensive model of curriculum revision that integrates foundational and clinical sciences and also provides a dedicated research/scholarly track and faculty development programming to support such a curriculum. Educational reforms at other dental schools are based on addition of new curricular elements and include innovative approaches that introduce concepts regarding new advances in science, evidence-based foundations, and translational research. To illustrate these reforms, the Marquette curriculum and initiatives at the University of Connecticut and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio dental schools are described in this article, with recognition that other dental schools may also be developing strategies to infuse new science and evidence-based critical appraisal skills into their students' educational experiences. Discussion of the rationale, goals/objectives, and outcomes within the context of dissemination of these models should help other dental schools to design approaches for integrating this new material that are appropriate to their particular circumstances and mission. For the profession to advance, every dental school must play a role in establishing a culture that attaches value to research/discovery, evidence-based practice, and the application of new knowledge/technologies to patient care.

PMID:
17468305
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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