Research in the context of the dental school has traditionally been focused on institutional/faculty accomplishments and generating new knowledge to benefit the profession. Only recently have significant efforts been made to expand the overall research programming into the formal dental curriculum, to provide students with a baseline exposure to the research and critical thinking processes, encourage evidence-based decision-making, and stimulate interest in academic/research careers. Various approaches to curriculum reform and the establishment of multiple levels of student research opportunities are now part of the educational fabric of many dental schools worldwide. Many of the preliminary reports regarding the success and vitality of these programs have used outcomes measures and metrics that emphasize cultural changes within institutions, student research productivity, and student career preferences after graduation. However, there have not been any reports from long-standing programs (a minimum of 25 years of cumulative data) that describe dental school graduates who have had the benefit of research/training experiences during their dental education. The University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry initiated a BSc Dent program in 1980 that awarded a formal degree for significant research experiences taking place within the laboratories of the Faculty-based researchers and has continued to develop and expand this program. The success of the program has been demonstrated by the continued and increasing demands for entry, the academic achievements of the graduates, and the numbers of graduates who have completed advanced education/training programs or returned to the Faculty as instructors. Analysis of our long-term data validates many recent hypotheses and short-term observations regarding the benefits of dental student research programs. This information may be useful in the design and implementation of dental student research programs at other dental schools.
The aim was to study achieved competences in temporomandibular disorders (TMD)/orofacial pain (OP) at two universities by comparing student's knowledge and understanding, satisfaction with their education and confidence in their clinical competences of TMD/OP.
The study was conducted in collaboration between Malmö University, Sweden—which uses problem-based learning—and the University of Naples Federico II, Italy—which uses traditional educational methods. Final-semester dental students responded to a self-report questionnaire regarding their knowledge and understanding, interpretation of cases histories, clinical experience, satisfaction and confidence in clinical examination, management and treatment evaluation.
No significant difference was found between the students regarding knowledge and understanding. Eighty-seven per cent of the Malmö students and 96% of the Naples students met the criterion on achieved competence. Malmö students had a higher per cent of correct diagnoses than Naples students in the interpretation of case histories. Overall, Malmö students reported most clinical experience and higher confidence than Naple students.
The main findings were that students from Malmö and Naples were, similar in knowledge and understanding of TMD/OP and in satisfaction with their clinical competences. However, Malmö students perceived more confidence in clinical management of patients with TMD/OP. This may reflect that, besides the theoretical part of the programme, a sufficient level of clinical exposure to patients with TMD/OP is essential to gain competences in TMD/OP.
Although it is important to assess the effectiveness of programs, courses, and teaching methods to ensure that goals are being achieved, it is very difficult to evaluate the impact of fundamental changes in a whole curriculum. This paper reviews measures that have been used in the past in dentistry and medicine for evaluating academic programs: curriculum guidelines; competency documents; discussion and focus groups; competency examinations; board examinations; oral comprehensive examinations; student, alumni, and patient satisfaction surveys; evaluation by instructors; and clinical productivity. We conclude that, since no standard method exists, several tools should be used to obtain a multidimensional assessment.
Health history forms are an integral component of students' clinical and didactic training in physical assessment and often serve as a model for students to use in their future practices. This study examined how alcohol and tobacco use are assessed in patient health history forms used in the dental schools of the United States and Canada (n = 63). Deans of schools were requested to send a copy of their health history and other supplemental forms used for patient care. The response rate was 98 percent. Almost 25 percent of the schools' forms did not address either alcohol or tobacco use; 37 percent failed to address one or both risk behaviors; 25 percent did not request tobacco information; and 36 percent did not address alcohol use. Major inconsistencies regarding the inclusion, content, and quantity of alcohol and tobacco questions were noted. Consensus among dental schools as to which questions to include in their health forms was not apparent.