Bulletin of Dental Education

Around the Dental Education Community - January 2011

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University of Maryland Renews Focus on Ergonomics Instruction

A high prevalence of neck and back pain among practicing dentists and dental hygienists has prompted Dr. Christian S. Stohler, D.M.D., Dean of the University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, to renew its focus on teaching ergonomics in the dental education curriculum.

Starting with the current semester, every incoming student must take the school's course "Ergonomics in Dentistry" before he or she can practice simulations or live-patient dental work. The school wants to be the place where dentists and dental hygienists learn to ergonomically correct practices, says Dr. Stohler.

"Three out of every five dentists live with the pain, due to years of practicing with poor posture and other unwise positioning," guest lecturer Dr. Lance M. Rucker, Director of Clinical Ergonomics and Simulation at the University of British Columbia, told this year's incoming class.

Over the past 37 years, studies in the United States and Canada have stressed the importance of dentists adopting more ergonomically correct equipment and positioning, Dr. Rucker said that two-thirds of dentists lose days of practice each year because of muscular-skeletal pain.

Retired professor Dr. Michael M. Belenky and Dr. Norman Bartner have created an instructional video that shows current students the proper way to perform dental procedures. "We start all the dental students off with knowing the proper posture as a dentist for avoiding such career-limiting problems," said Dr. Bartner.

Fourth Dental School on the Horizon in Pennsylvania

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) has received a $1 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The school plans to use these funds to open the state's fourth dental school to provide oral health care to more than 46,000 Erie County residents.

The new dental school will be constructed as a high-tech educational facility to accommodate 100 students per class year. The addition of the dental school will bring 86 professional, administrative, and staff jobs, which will foster growth for the Erie community. LECOM will invest between $37 million and $47 million to plan and construct the dental school.

LECOM projects that the first dental students will receive their dental degrees in 2015. The College also has begun planning for a dental school to serve the state of Florida from LECOM's Bradenton campus, which will open in 2012.

Five-Year Dual Degree Offered at University of Illinois at Chicago

Students interested in pursuing academic degrees in dentistry and public health will now have an opportunity to obtain both at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The joint D.M.D./M.S. in Clinical Translational Science degree is a partnership between the College of Dentistry and the School of Public Health.

"We already had a really good program for training basic scientists," explained Dr. Phillip T. Marucha, Associate Dean for Research at the College of Dentistry. "So as part of the clinical translational science program on campus, we're developing combined clinical training with master's training in clinical research," he continued. Students will earn the D.M.D. from the College of Dentistry and an M.S. from the School of Public Health, directed by Dr. Jack Zwanziger, Professor and Director of the Division of Health Policy and Administration.

The five-year program has didactic components and a research project allowing participants to gain the skills necessary to become clinical researchers. The curriculum includes statistics, research design, and skills in measurement focused around the individual's research preference.

Those who complete the program will be qualified to join faculties of dental schools.

For more information, contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry at 312-413-1160.

Marquette University Professor Receives NIH Grant

Dr. Christopher Okunseri, Associate Professor of Dental Public Health at Marquette University, received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study treatments provided to patients with non-traumatic dental conditions within hospital emergency departments in the United States.

"Policymakers and researchers are paying increased attention to the use of emergency departments for the delivery of primary care because of the continuous increase in national health care costs," Dr. Okunseri said. "Just as with non-traumatic medical visits to emergency departments, dental visits to ERs can present significant cost, practice, and programming implications and may contribute to emergency room overcrowding."

The study will explore which medications are prescribed in emergency departments nationwide for non-traumatic dental conditions, in addition to identifying which population groups seek dental care in emergency rooms and whether racial and ethnic disparities exist in prescribing practices.

Dr. Okunseri's findings will help shape policy and develop appropriate national medication guidelines for non-traumatic dental conditions visits to emergency departments.

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