As most of you know, in September 2016, ADEA convened a community of stakeholders to relaunch the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education (ADEA CCI) as ADEA CCI 2.0—a multi-institutional faculty development program. The commission now has an ADEA
CCI Steering Committee composed of six dental educators who have been influential in promoting change—within their institutions and across dental education more broadly.
Several of these individuals joined me in Baltimore this past June for the 2017 ADEA CCI Liaisons Summer Meeting. At that gathering, the Liaisons were tasked with assessing their readiness for change and understanding the change process on a theoretical and practical level. They were sent home with the first of several CCI 2.0 toolkits that are being developed to facilitate change.
We caught up with the Steering Committee members last month to hear their thoughts on the meeting and the work the Liaisons will be doing. This issue of the ADEA
CCI Liaison Ledger contains excerpts from those conversations. As you’ll see, over the years, the members of the Steering Committee have gained a number of insights, which can inform all of us while helping to guide the Liaisons in their on-the-ground work to advance the goals of ADEA CCI.
Anthony Palatta, D.D.S., Ed.D., ADEA Chief Learning Officer
Ledger: The ADEA CCI Liaisons left the recent meeting in Baltimore
primed to engage their campus communities in projects that support
institutional change. How will you know that these projects are gaining
Cindy Amyot: We had a very robust
discussion at the summer meeting—all the way from “I’m really freaked out about
this,” to “wow!” The Liaisons are going back to their institutions to talk
about change in dental education and ask, individually and collectively, do we
feel prepared for change? Some folks spoke about broadening the discussion to include
all their dental school faculty—beyond the CCI Liaisons and CCI
Workgroups—administrators and staff, and I suspect some will be talking with
students as well. So, I don’t expect one deliverable, given that everybody’s at
a different place and doing different things. We have 76 dental schools in the
United States and Canada, and they all bring to the table unique cultures.
Muhammad Walji: I will be looking for
engagement. I think, essentially, it’s
the faculty members on the ground who are going to make any change viable and
Denise Kassebaum: We’re going to be looking to see that the
Liaisons are successfully catalyzing new conversations that haven’t occurred in
the past, that they are helping to start new initiatives at their own
institutions. This meeting provided great opportunities not only to hear about stories
of change from different institutions, but also to talk about what change is
and how to become a change agent. Some of the competencies discussed included handling
conflict effectively, building new relationships and listening more actively,
so I think we have a group that is eager to try these things out.
Nadeem Karimbux: What I like about this new CCI venture is the
fact that it’s trying to engage people in creating pedagogies or assessment
tools that will lend themselves to some of these changes. I sensed frustration
among some dental educators at the meeting because we are constrained by
certain external factors—our accreditation standards, our national board exams,
our licensure exams—but it’s definitely early on in the process. My sense is
that people are starting to get excited about the things they could potentially do. There
was definitely that spark in the room.
Frank Licari: Using the existing resources and getting people
to rally around an idea—that’s what change is all about. I think that people
sometimes find more reasons why they can’t
do something instead of trying to find out a lot of reasons why they can do something. They have more power
to make a change than they realize. And so, when the Liaisons get stuck, we’d
like them to bring those problems to us so we can help them work through them.
Denise Kassebaum: In my own institution, one
of the things that I’m working on with the Liaisons and the rest of the faculty
is creating what we’re calling an innovation agenda. This process allows us to prioritize
change actions and track our progress on initiatives in our different mission
Nader Nadershahi: It’s always important
to bring a diverse group of constituents together early in the conversation
around change. It’s also important to define some metrics ahead of time. We
could measure increased discussions in our schools about excellence in
education, what that means, and how we continue to evolve our curricula.
Another approach may be to quantify the number of curricular innovations that
are happening, or the number of ADEA meeting presentations related to the
conversations that are occurring with the Liaisons. Of course, these would
include use of the toolkits that are coming out.
other potential metric could be the changes or trends we may start seeing in
the survey of dental school seniors—the consumers of this work that the
Liaisons and faculty in each of our campuses are putting in. How are the
students viewing their education, or are they viewing it any differently from
the way previous student cohorts did?
Ledger: What are your
long-term hopes for this initiative?
Denise Kassebaum: ADEA CCI 2.0 is about creating a learning
community where we can inform each other’s road to change. While recognizing
always that individuals at one institution may have a set of opportunities and
resources that someone at another institution may not have, we all can
contribute to sharing best practices, influencing each other as part of a
learning community and informing the future as we’re moving forward.
Muhammad Walji: I hope that CCI 2.0 will provide a framework for
how dental institutions change and innovate. Many of our institutions are very
focused on educating the students, which is obviously one of our main missions.
But because we have clinics, it’s equally important that we provide great
experiences to our patients as well, not just in the clinic, but also in their
I hope that going
through this process and methodology will help move our dental institutions to
become more person-centered in the care they deliver, and I believe that if we
focus on providing high-quality and high-value care to our patients, we will
also create great learning opportunities for our students.
Frank Licari: I think it’s very easy to change when there’s a crisis. I think it’s
very hard to change when people think everything is okay. Too often we have
really looked only at the status quo, as if dental education operates in a
vacuum with nothing else around it. It’s sort of like, the world could change,
but dental education really should remain the same. Our hope would be that the
schools begin to say, “There are some issues that dentistry needs to start
moving on now.”
Cindy Amyot: I think we are
painting a pretty compelling picture that shows—whether we choose to engage or
even acknowledge it—change is happening all around us, and it’s going to influence
what we do. So, as we move forward with CCI 2.0, I hope we are developing the
kinds of tools and strategies that will help the liaisons to have more global conversations when they return to their institutions.
Nader Nadershahi: Ultimately, I hope that
we’re creating and evolving an educational system that’s graduating
professionals who are going to change the world. They’re going to make our
global society healthier, and they’ll be the leaders in making those changes. Whether
in policy or the direct care that they provide, or the conversations that they’re
involved with, I hope they will be equipped to have that kind of a broader
impact on the world.
Ledger: Dr. Kassebaum, What lessons from your experience as a
pioneer in interprofessional education can inform the Liaisons’ work to
transform dental education?
Denise Kassebaum: My recommendation would be to take an inventory and value the local
expertise that you have no matter what institution you’re in. In our case with
interprofessional education, we had amazing partners from different
professional schools on the campus. If you listen closely to them, you can
begin to define shared values and create an excitement and direction that you can
move forward on, together. Each of you may start from a different place, but as
long as you acknowledge what is unique about your situation while being open to
considering changes others are making, you can work together to foster change
in dental education.
Ledger: Dr. Nadershahi, What
has your experience as a curriculum innovator taught you about overcoming
resistance to change, and how might those insights assist the Liaisons in their
Nader Nadershahi: The biggest lesson that
I learned over the years is that it’s important to be patient. It’s important
to know when to press the accelerator, and it’s important to know when an
organization needs to coast a little, adapting to changes and integrating new ideas
so people are comfortable with those initiatives. If your vision is clear, and
you have brought the right folks together to help develop that vision, be
Ledger: Dr. Licari, As someone
who has worked as a change agent at both established and recently opened dental
schools, what advice do you have for the Liaisons on adapting their approaches
to fit diverse institutional environments?
Frank Licari: I try to first look and say, is this really the right thing to do?
Is this the best option that we have? And if it is, then we need to do it, and we
need to find ways we can be successful at it. You have to free your mind of all
the political issues and other difficulties when you look at change, and start
asking yourself a much bigger, broader question as to why you need to change
and how that change will result in a positive impact once it is
Ledger: Dr. Karimbux, As Editor
of the Journal
of Dental Education, what role do you
envision the publication of ADEA CCI 2.0 resources playing in transforming
Nadeem Karimbux: ADEA CCI 2.0 will have
a broad array of outcomes, so dissemination will occur through many kinds of
environments: MedEdPORTAL®, ADEA weTeach®, posters at
ADEA meetings and so forth. Research on the validity and reliability of CCI 2.0
tools could appear in the Journal of
Dental Education. We might also want to share these tools in some kind of
collaborative online environment.
Ledger: Dr. Walji, From your vantage point as an informaticist,
what opportunities related to information science can advance the Liaisons’
Muhammad Walji: One of the main opportunities will be to use data
to drive decisions about which changes to adopt and how to measure the success
of those changes. Dental schools already have a treasure trove of clinical,
educational and research data, but we sometimes rely on anecdotes and gut
feelings to make important decisions about what changes to adopt or not to
adopt. By putting these data together, we can generate new insights.
In addition, I think it’s possible
for institutions to generate new data—to essentially run these micro-experiments
to test their various change initiatives so we can learn from these
experiments, even if they’re not successful.
Ledger: Dr. Amyot, As a faculty development specialist, what do
you want the Liaisons to know about the value of a faculty-driven, grassroots
approach to bringing change to dental schools?
Cindy Amyot: Change is not going to
happen unless we develop faculty. Whether we’re talking about new technologies,
new pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning, new assessment strategies,
whatever the case may be. We can’t expect to move change forward in any of
these areas without our developing as faculty.
to me, faculty development is like the
big umbrella at the top of all of this. Change is not going to happen unless
people are developed first to buy into the idea that change probably needs to
occur and then to accept that change will likely disrupt the way we’ve done
things up to now. So, the question becomes, how do we gear up and prepare
ourselves to be the educators who move us into this new changing environment?
Ledger: Any parting thoughts?
Nadeem Karimbux: Like any new venture, I
think there will be some anxiety, fear, trepidation, and I think we will see some
schools that are a little more agile in the way they think about change and the
way that they potentially embrace change and start to run with it.
Denise Kassebaum: It’s about
listening; it’s about collaboration; and it’s about identifying shared
directions forward that engage people in change. Adopt a belief that you don’t
know what other people know; be willing to listen intently; and be open to
creating the changes you want to see.
Cindy Amyot: Talking about change
raises all kinds of different feelings—from anxiety all the way to excitement.
Everybody will be returning to the unique context of their dental school, and
so having an awareness of that context and trying to understand the best
approach to trying to move change…and then not being frustrated if School A isn’t
moving as fast as School B because School B may have some unique properties
that are allowing it to move in a more expeditious way. We shouldn’t let the
context discourage us about what the future holds.
Nader Nadershahi: I’m excited to be part
of this group, and more importantly, I’m impressed with our ADEA colleagues.
Dental educators tend to be broad-thinking and innovative, and it’s really a
privilege to be part of that kind of an organization.