by Ann Nasti, DMD
In an effort to encourage the brightest undergraduate students to consider a career in dentistry, the Stony Brook University Discover Dental School: Summer Scholars' Program was developed. The program is a weeklong summer educational experience targeting undergraduate students to explore their interest in the dental profession. Dental students and dentists teach the college students what it's like to be part of today's dental profession and get them enthused about what the practice of dentistry may become in the future.
TOP: Participants working during endo specialty bootcamp with Dr. Jeff Seiver
BOTTOM: Dr. Euane Newen gives undergraduate students their first exposure to preparing and restoring cavities
The overall purpose of the Discover Dental School Summer Scholars' Program is trifold. First, it provides a mechanism by which students interested in a career in dentistry can experience an intensive, well-supervised, hands-on curriculum. It simultaneously helps these students understand the daily academic and social life of dental students, as a current dental student mentors each participant, with direct faculty supervision. Secondly, it provides current dental students a chance to enhance their peer-mentoring skills by sharing their knowledge and demonstrating their leadership skills. Finally, this program provides potential dental school applicants an in-depth look at what Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine has to offer.
I created the Discover Dental School: Summer Scholars' Program in 2013, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the predoctoral students. It was inspiring to see dental students take such an active role serving as mentors to predental students. Now in its second year, the program continues to be a rewarding collaboration for all involved - the predental participants, dental student team leaders, and faculty mentors. In this communication, we report the outcomes of the 2014 program.
During the summer of 2014, 54 participants from 40 undergraduate colleges and 14 states were chosen from over 65 applicants. Some of the colleges and universities represented in the program were Stony Brook University, Washington University, University of Tennessee, Boston University, Notre Dame, Columbia, Adelphi, and New York University. Program participants who resided on the Stony Brook campus comprised 32% of participants, with a 2:3 male to female ratio in the program overall.
During the weeklong program, the predental participants learned what it's like to be dental students. They received lectures and hands-on experiences in the dental materials and simulation laboratories. Highlighted were some of the most recent and revolutionary technologies in the dental field, such as 3-D monitors for viewing endodontic procedures, and CAD/CAM technologies that allow crowns to be made and inserted into patients' mouths in one visit.
The predental students scanned and milled an E4D porcelain restoration, and used the CompuDent Wand System that provides painless injections for all routine procedures. They learned to use handpieces and various dental instruments, completed operative procedures in the Thomas and Nicolina Nasti Simulation Lab, waxed up teeth, and took alginate impressions and poured them in stone. There were also sessions on the interview process for dental school, and mock interviews with a panel of faculty and predoctoral students.
One day during the program was dental specialty boot camp, where participants learned about the various dental specialties, including pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, oral surgery, and dental anesthesia. The participants made mouthguards, put on brackets, obturated canals, removed calculus, placed sutures on bananas, and worked on a simulator called Sim Man in the HSC Clinical Skills Center.
The week also included evening networking events - an orientation dinner at a local yacht club, go-kart and miniature golf activities, a barbeque, and dinner at a French restaurant. In order to accommodate participants who live outside of Long Island, Stony Brook University campus provided student housing.
As part of an exit survey on the last day of the program, participants were asked to evaluate different program components on a confidence scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being most unfavorable, and 5 being most favorable.
Results of the participant questionnaire were:
• The Discover Dental School Summer Scholars' Program director and student leaders were responsive to participants' needs and concerns - 93.2% recorded a score of 5, 6.8% recorded a score of 4.
• The information presented in lectures was interesting, engaging, and relevant - 59.6% recorded a score of 5, 29.8% recorded a score of 4, and 10.6% recorded a score of 3.
• The hands-on activities were sufficient for participants to experience various facets of the dental profession - 88.9% recorded a score of 5, 11.1% recorded a score of 4.
• The interactions with various faculty members throughout the week were informative and helpful to participants in exploring the dental profession - 88.9% recorded a score of 5, 11.1% recorded a score of 4.
• The networking activities were enjoyable and in a sufficient amount - 42.6% recorded a score of 5, 38.3% recorded a score of 4, 14.9% recorded a score of 3, 4.3% recorded a score of 2.
• The dietary accommodations (breakfasts, lunches, dinners), including dietary restriction needs, were organized and carried out well - 73.9% recorded a score of 5, 21.7% recorded a score of 4, 4.3% recorded a score of 3.
• The dental students' perspective on life in the dental school was informative and helpful to participants - 93.2% recorded a score of 5, 6.8% recorded a score of 4.
• The number of hours spent on the interview process and the Q/A session with students was sufficient - 84.1% recorded a score of 5, 13.6% recorded a score of 4, 2.3% recorded a score of 3.
These results provided extensive information about participants' experiences and recommendations, as well as strategies to enhance next year's program. The results of the exit survey reinforced our observations that the program had the correct mix of lectures and hands-on activities, as well as networking activities for the target population. Plans for curricula enhancements to the Discover Dental School: Summer Scholars' Program 2015 are underway, and will include the incorporation of a tooth bleaching activity and an advanced esthetic activity.
Ann Nasti, DMD, is a general dentist on Long Island, NY. She graduated from The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and maintained a restorative general practice with a focus on esthetic and CAD/CAM dentistry from 1981-2012. While in practice, Dr. Nasti held a part-time faculty position at Stony Brook Dental School before assuming full time status as Clinical Associate Professor. She is currently Director of the Year 4 General Practice Program, Director of the Discover Dental School Summer Scholars Program, and practices at Stony Brook Dental Associates.