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UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 9 | Sep. 4, 2008

Blogging at UBC – First Step Towards a Global Standard in Dental Care

By Catherine Loiacono

Dare to compare how other universities teach dentistry? As the demand for more trained professionals increases and as more students train abroad to receive their dentistry degrees and return home to practice, UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry recognizes the need to establish a global standard of dental care to bridge international training gaps.

“We want to increase the understanding of various approaches to dental treatment in different parts of the world and why this impacts on professional recognition between countries,” says Karen Gardner, assistant clinical professor in UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry.

In an initial effort to establish this global standard, UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry is first in the world to offer its students a global learning experience with the launch of the International Peer Review (IPR) teaching initiative -- a teaching collaboration with four other universities from around the world by using a blog format.

UBC’s newly launched IPR in blog format invites dentistry students from UBC, the University of Birmingham, UK, University of California San Francisco, US, University of Melbourne, AU and the University of Saskatchewan, CA, to share notes on common dentistry practices.

“It is a first step in a dialogue to address differences in international professional dental education -- with significant potential,” says Gardner. “It is a great teaching tool to train our future dentists.”

Gardner, who leads the initiative, pairs interested dentistry students from the different universities. The paired students write an introductory letter describing their work and invite each other to view pictures and post comments about the techniques used and then provide feedback based on skills taught at their institution.

IPR in blog format allows dental students to recognize differences in dental treatment and defend their conclusions in an evidence-based format. Students gain confidence in their education and become aware of different approaches to the same problems as well as the rationale behind these approaches. Students also learn to appreciate why a procedure may be done differently in another country.

“Requirements for a successful dentist in one area will differ from the requirements for a successful dentist in other areas,” says Gardner. “What we recognize is that dentists are localized specialists. For example, a common practice for a dentist in one region of the world may be to extract a tooth because of a potentially higher risk for infection. In other regions however, a dentist may practice preserving the tooth by filling cavities, performing a root canal or re-mineralizing because the risk for infection can be better managed.”

Gardiner adds that IPR will also help Canadian dental students who train abroad understand where differences in their training may occur and why gap training of up to two years may be required to fulfill the practice standards of another country.

“As dental professionals work more globally an international standard in dental education needs to be established as a baseline to understand and measure education and qualifications,” says Gardner. “This model shares practices. The hope is that as it continues to grow, eventually there will be convergence which will lead toward a standards of care across the globe.”

UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry’s International Peer Review in blog format connects dentistry students from across the globe and allows them to learn from each other by sharing different approaches to the similar procedures.

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Last reviewed 04-Sep-2008

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