Bulletin of Dental Education

Annual Session Attendees Explore the Past and Future of the Journal of Dental Education

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By Nicole Fauteux

As dental education has evolved over the past 75 years, the Journal of Dental Education (JDE) has been right alongside, chronicling its advances. The Journal celebrated this milestone in January with a 75th Anniversary Issue, which came to life, so to speak, at the ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition. Several of the issue’s authors shared the gist of their articles during a two-hour symposium that shed light on the Journal’s past and its role in supporting the future progress of dental education.

The Journal’s current Editor Dr. L. Jackson Brown opened the proceedings by noting that the Journal has not only chronicled advances within dental education. It has also acted as a provocateur, stimulating discussion and airing divisive issues. ADEA Executive Director Dr. Richard W. Valachovic noted the uncanny similarity between the topics covered in the first issue of the JDE and the topics that concern our community today. He lauded the foresight of the Journal’s founders and the current leadership’s unwavering commitment to using the JDE as a vehicle for progress within dental education.

Two ADEA members with outstanding research credentials filled out the first half of the program. Dr. Dominick P. DePaola, Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, analyzed the evolution of dental education between 1936 and 2011 and commented on the role that the JDE played along the way. He echoed Dr. Valachovic’s observation that the conversation remains largely the same in spite of the many changes that have occurred within dental education, and he lamented the “glacial” pace of change. Nevertheless, he spoke optimistically about the opportunities for progress that lie ahead.

Dr. Harold C. Slavkin, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, who followed on the program, noted that the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. He cited the convergence of two revolutions, one in the biomedical sciences and the other in digital technology, and their profound influences on the health sciences. He emphasized that this explosion in knowledge is critical to the improvement of the human condition and will have a significant impact on dental education.

The second hour of the symposium addressed the implications of these changes for the JDE. Dr. Judith Albino, Clinical Professor and Interim Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, praised the journal, noting that she and her co-authors found a voice in the JDE when other journals were not ready to address the issue of oral health disparities. Her co-author and JDE Associate Editor, Dr. Marita R. Englehart, asserted that dental education has the power to affect professional attitudes and behavior related to providing care for the underserved. She noted that the JDE helps to document how we are doing in that pursuit and contributes to our understanding of oral health disparities.

Dr. Howard L. Bailit, Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut, and Dr. Alan J. Formicola, Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, addressed the ways in which community-based clinical opportunities are fundamentally transforming dental education. Dr. Bailit described the unique characteristics of clinical dental education. He noted that the safety net system is likely to expand under the Affordable Care Act, increasing opportunities for community-based learning. He sees great promise in this distributed model of clinical education.

Dr. Formicola picked up where his co-author left off, noting that community-based education is the fastest-growing part of the dental education curriculum. He placed his discussion in the context of the Point/Counterpoint session on social entrepreneurship and interprofessional education held earlier during the Annual Session. He noted a dramatic transformation in the decades since he first went to dental school: from piecemeal to comprehensive care, from repairing disease to prevention, and from treating one patient at a time to working to influence the health of the entire population.

Finally, Dr. Bill Hendricks, Associate Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School took the floor. "The nine years I worked on the Journal were pivotal in my life," he told the audience, and he credited former Editor Dr. Olav Alveres and Managing Editor Lynn Whitaker, who were present for the event, with teaching him about publishing and academic journalism. His talk focused on the new face of dental education and the ways in which schools are adapting to accommodate a more diverse student population.

Dr. Brown concluded the session by saying, "You heard from some of our best and brightest." If you were not fortunate enough to hear them in person, you can still read their articles in the 75th anniversary issue of the JDE.

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