CHANGES AND CHALLENGES IN GLOBAL DENTAL EDUCATION
The Changing Scenery
The impact of Dental Education in a global context has been changing significantly over the past decade. With the constantly changing political landscape, socio-economic demands, advances in dental technology and variable disease epidemiology , the boundaries of oral health care has been redefined, necessitating corresponding responses in the field of Dental Education. Changes are seen in almost all Dental education institutions globally with varying trends and themes.
New approaches to learning and teaching are being experimented with consequential changes to assessment methodologies. The Faculty of Dentistry implemented a revised curriculum three years ago with a student-orientated and competency-based programme. New learning methodologies such as the problem-based learning modules have been introduced. Systematic integration of courses on a multi-disciplinary base have resulted in better appreciation of patient management. Furthermore, the use of new technology not only improved the impact of accurate diagnosis and treatment procedures and instrumentation, but also the manner by which communication and training process take place through the electronic language.
The Global Context
The realization of the need to gather around these changes and challenges have directly resulted in the formation of regional Dental Education Associations. Ours in this part of the world is grouped with the Southeast Asia Association for Dental Education (SEAADE). Globally, 11 regional Dental Education Association have placed themselves under the umbrella of the International Federation of Dental Education Associations (IFDEA). Hence there is now a voice for Dental education worldwide with each regional organization focusing on their specific immediate challenges.
The range of education issues are wide ranging. Recruitment and Faculty development are significant challenges faced by Americans whilst the quest for quality assurance for the recognition and integrity of institutional programmes appear to be the priority of the developing world. The Europeans, faced with dismantling of geographical boundaries,have initiated a DentEd Project which started in 1997 and focusing on the theme of Convergence. Earlier in March 2001, a Global Congress on Dental Education was held in Prague which saw the assembly of 230 Dental educators working feverishly on the current DentEdEvolves Project (organized through the American Dental Education Association and the Association of Dental Education in Europe). To be more inclusive of an international group, this Global Dental Education Conference will be held in Singapore in April 2002 and will be organised through the IFDEA and hosted by the NUS Faculty of Dentistry
The DentEdEvolves Project
There are 5 main themes that will be dealt with for this Project:
Cognition and the Dental Student
Under these themes are more specific sub-themes which the delegates are divided under.
The diversity and range of challenges which Dental schools face are significantly wide and contexturised under the geographical groupings. Several keys areas may be identified as desirable outcomes faced by the following challenges:
1. Convergence - the need to harmonise programmes which differ by virtue of race, language, culture and practice.
2. Scholarship - there is an increasing demand for research excellence and clinical competence
3. Quality Assurance - moving away from accreditation of programmes, institutions are co-operating amongst themselves in voluntary self-assessment of their programmes through school visitations.
4. Teaching & Learning Methodologies - Problem-based Learning in a student-orientated environment has been the main focus in Dental educators' quest for effectiveness in traning and education.
5. Funding & Recruitment - there appears to be a common problem for funding by most schools which compromise resource availability. Coupled with this, the academic career is losing bright talents to the private sector where renumeration is far more attractive.
6. The Future University - there is general consensus that current changes will affect the future University in a drastic fashion, especially in the electronic communication age.
To move ahead in the context of an ever-changing global Dental education scenery, Dental educators should be aware of the current issues of challenge so that they may adapt to the need for future changes. Worldwide Dental education programmes are going through a metamorphosis that will enable Dental education to produce graduates sensitive to the need and relevance of oral health care to the population they serve in.
Teo Choo Soo
KI-NUS Life Sciences Symposium
The Karolinska Institute (KI) of Sweden and the National Universtiy of Singapore (NUS) are organizing the first Joint KI-NUS Life Sciences Symposium in Singapore. This symposium is to provide a platform for Singapore and KI scientists to exchange scientific ideas and to learn from one another in selected areas of life sciences, so as to forge a close mutual understanding and to promote collaboration among participants form KI and Singapore. The themes of the symposium are:
Speakers are by invitation and are from KI and Singapore. All are welcome to participate in this event. For enquiry, please contact Mrs Doris Wong at 6772 4148 or e-mail:
Education -"A Global Perspective"
The Faculty of Dentistry, NUS will be hosting this conference which is organized through IFDEA. The theme of this conference is elaborated in the article titled "Changes and Challenges in Global Dental Education" published in this issue. All are welcomed to join this important international Dental Education Conference to be held in Singapore. For enquiry, please contact A/Prof. Teo Choo Soo at