Bulletin of Dental Education

OSD USC’s Distance Learning Program Nears 100 Participants

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What began as one online postgraduate program has expanded substantially. The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s (OSD USC) hybrid online graduate programs are getting close to enrolling their one hundredth student. There are now seven competency-based graduate programs, including master’s degrees in Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine, Geriatric Dentistry and Interdisciplinary Pain Medicine (in collaboration with the Keck School of Medicine of USC). OSD USC also offers yearlong certificates in Orofacial Pain, Oral Pathology and Radiology, Geriatric Dentistry and Pain Medicine. More information about these programs can be found online.

“Unlike many online programs,” notes Glenn Clark, D.D.S., OSD USC’s Assistant Dean of Distance Learning, “we do not simply provide online content to students and test them at the end of each content section. We continuously interact with our students using a variety of pedagogies and teaching techniques and continuously assess their knowledge and skills using a variety of tools.” 

Ostrow PhotoThe programs are structured with a variety of pedagogic styles, including interactive recorded lectures, review of current literature, face-to-face online meetings and case discussions, standardized cases and scenarios, simulation models, proctored evaluations and an intensive two-week on-campus “boot camp” experience. The model enables students to receive feedback from teachers and peers on an ongoing basis and build long-term collaborative relationships. Among the tools USC developed for this program is a “Virtual Patient” educational software to help students acquire new knowledge and practice techniques in orofacial pain and oral medicine. 

Dr. Clark adds, “This program enables the practitioner to pursue formal postgrad education while continuing to practice dentistry. We have created a flexible and dynamic learning environment, but structured enough to reach predictable and verifiable results.” 

Jon S. Ryder, D.D.S., M.S., Dean of the University of New England College of Dental Medicine and an alumnus of OSD USC’s Master’s in Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine, is an ardent fan. “Educational programs such as this can profoundly influence one’s career,” he says. “This program not only allowed me to become an expert in oral medicine and orofacial pain, but also helped me academically to better understand how to teach and learn.”

The hybrid online programs are an attractive and effective option for practicing professionals who otherwise would not be able to access the formal training necessary to improve patient care in an ever-evolving profession. 

Courtesy of Glenn Clark, D.D.S., M.S., Professor, Assistant Dean of Distance Learning; Mariela Padilla, D.D.S., M.Ed., Assistant Professor of Clinical Dentistry, Assistant Director of Online Distance Education Programs; Robin Fox, M.S., Director of Educational Outcomes and Strategic Planning, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Published on October 11, 2017

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