A big part of this learning is how to use our hands efficiently, cleanly and consistently, says Dr. While it is common for universities to offer various forms of professional intervention, as far as we know, no other university offers a professional skills curriculum specifically for dental students. Our student-centered course, designed in a problem-based learning framework, worked even in a traditionally teacher-centered educational environment, where college students are rarely encouraged to actively participate in courses. By sharing our experience, we would like to encourage our fellow dental educators working in similar environments to design and deliver such courses.
Having started my third year in dental school, I felt like I had plunged into the bottom of the “clinical working group.” Our training up to that point had consisted of examining patients and formulating treatment plans. That approach subconsciously dominated my interactions with patients until graduation 2 years later. As any practicing dentist knows, having clinical skills is important as a foundation, but it really has very little to do with your success. That, in large part, will be related to hiring and training your staff, marketing the practice, learning how to maximize dental insurance, ordering and managing supplies, reducing overhead, and the 1000 other things involved in running a dental business.
When I look back, I think we had 1 total day of practice administration in dental school. I could have had 2 days in my perio program, but whatever it was, I was unfortunately not prepared for the realities of starting and managing a dental office. I really would have liked to have been offered several courses on the basics of running a business along with classes on how to cut a Class II preparation. It would have made my first 2 years in practice much more enjoyable.
To succeed in their careers, dentists need to develop both hard and soft skills. Hard skills include technical skills acquired through education and training, such as learning to use specific medical equipment or database management software. Soft skills are personal characteristics and habits that determine how you work alone and with others. Examples of soft skills for dentists include communication, leadership, focus, and compassion.
Dentists use their soft and hard skills to manage their clinical and business property responsibilities. You will learn about preventing dental diseases and other public health problems. Infection control is a vital part of dental training, including the different ways in which infection can be transmitted and how it can be stopped, including decontamination of dental equipment. You will be taught how to give injections of local dental anesthesia and how to “restore” decayed teeth (cavities).
You will learn when and how to remove teeth and how they are replaced. You'll learn about evidence-based dentistry, which involves learning the skills to read and critically evaluate scientific articles so that you can decide how best to treat your patients in the future.