Engaging dentistry and dental technology students through opportunities to communicate
Communication is integral between members of the oral health care team, however there are limited opportunities for dental students to experience and practice communication skills in most dental curricula around the world. Teamwork and collaborative working are imperatives for the dental team to achieve the best possible outcomes in provision of care for patients. To achieve this, Griffith University, in Queensland, Australia, has taken an innovative approach through an interprofessional curriculum for undergraduate dental care professionals. Dentistry, and dental technology students experience ‘real life – real time’ interprofessional education.
Evaluation of the curriculum, student perceptions and monitoring educational interventions has shown an increase in student’s awareness of their professional roles, led to clearer laboratory prescriptions, improved communication and closer collaboration. However to enable the full potential to be reached, individual academic staff and, crucially, managers of clinics and of teaching, need to embrace fully the ideals of interprofessional education and true collaboration. Dentistry and dental technology academics need to communicate and share their knowledge and expertise.
Dr Jane Evans is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Dentistry and Oral Health at Griffith University. She has researched, designed and developed the Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Technology as the inaugural degree program for dental technology in Australia. Extensive research was conducted by Jane to author the prosthetic technology, and research courses that comprise the program. This research continues today.
Formally, Jane completed her doctoral studies in Interprofessional Education in Dental Technology Education. This research identified and highlighted the strengths and limitations of an interprofessional curriculum within dental education. She is also a founding member of Griffith University’s Dental Education Research Action Group (DERAG). Jane draws on her extensive professional experience in oral health in both the public and private sectors. Prior to joining the higher education sector, she gathered valuable career experience across Dental Technology and Oral Health Quality Accreditation. Jane’s links to the profession see her make a valuable contribution to her field.