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A New First for U-M Dental Students

PERLs of Knowledge for JDE Readers, Scholars

Ann Arbor, MI — January 21, 2015 — Five dental students at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry have gained some valuable insights and experience that they didn’t anticipate when they began working for their dental degree.

The five volunteered to contribute to the first edition of PERLs, Peer Education: Reviews of the Literature, that debuted in the January issue of the Journal of Dental Education.  Published by the American Dental Education Association since 1936, JDE is a peer-reviewed monthly journal of educational and scientific research in dental, allied dental, and advanced dental education.   

Dr. Nadeem Karimbux, JDE editor, developed the idea for a new PERLs feature calling on academic leaders in dental education to work with students to identify relevant articles in the health professions or educational literature focusing on an important topic in dental education.  The students, working with a faculty mentor, would then write abstracts of the selected articles.  JDE Associate Editor Dr. Marita Inglehart, a professor of dentistry in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, sent a call for submissions to all dental schools encouraging participation.

“We jumped at the opportunity to get our students involved and were pleased to be the first to respond,” said Dr. Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, associate dean for Academic Affairs.  She selected a current topic in health care and education, interprofessional education, and asked the dental students to select a paper on the subject to read and write a synopsis.  The students, all officers or members of the student chapter of ADEA, had a two-week deadline to submit their abstracts.

“I believed our students would gain valuable experience reading a paper that would expose them to new perspectives and give them a better understanding of an important issue in education today,” Murdoch-Kinch said.  She also thought it would be an opportunity for them to think critically, analyze the papers and reflect on their own experiences, and provide an opportunity to have their abstracts published in a widely read academic journal.

Dental Students Enthused

“I was impressed with the enthusiasm of all the students and the quality of their work,” Murdoch-Kinch said.  “This experience has helped them better understand some of today’s issues in academic dentistry directly applicable to their experiences as health care professionals and, in some cases, inspire them to consider a future in academic dentistry.”

Dental students said the experience was a positive one.  Each commented about what they learned reading a paper and writing an abstract.

  • Guneet Kohli (D2), president of the U-M ADEA Student Chapter:
    I learned more about the importance of interprofessional collaboration to help manage and treat patients, such as previously incarcerated women who are trying to work their way back into society.  I hope to become a dental academician, so reading the article and writing the abstract broadened my knowledge base.  I’m also excited about working with professionals from various backgrounds to provide the best possible dental care for my patients.
  • Allison Everett (D3), vice president of the U-M ADEA Student Chapter:
    Writing an abstract for publication in an academic journal was a natural extension of being actively involved with our school’s chapter of ADEA.  The experience exposed me to current literature about interprofessional collaboration and education.  It also helped me to evaluate the information and select essential evidence to include in the abstract.  I will be able to use these experiences in the future to gather important information from research literature to educate my patients and answer their questions.
  • Francesca Gattuso (D3), secretary of the U-M ADEA Student Chapter:
    This experience helped me to identify important findings in a scholarly publication and summarize that information.  I hope to be able to use some of what I learned from this experience at a later time in my own clinical practice.
  • Daniel Bair (D2), member of the U-M ADEA Student Chapter:
    I got involved in this project because I believe interprofessional education (IPE) will continue to evolve at U-M and other dental schools.  My abstract focused on how IPE is successfully implemented in other schools and disciplines.  Evidence-based findings show that frequent communication and hands-on involvement are the most important basics that foster positive attitudes and relationships among health care professionals.  Knowing that, I plan to use this information during my career in clinical and academic dentistry.
  • My Yang (D3), member of the U-M ADEA Student Chapter: 
    I learned how critical administrative and faculty support are for interprofessional education to succeed.  This applies not only to dental schools, but other schools that are involved in educating students to provide health care to patients.  How we as health care professionals provide comprehensive patient care will continue to evolve, the importance of a team approach will continue to be important.

The PERLs feature will appear periodically in future issues of the Journal of Dental Education.