Sydney Dental School Launches Track for Academic Dental Careers

Dentistry Today


The University of Sydney Dental School has launched a new short course pathway for DMD students to encourage senior students to pursue careers in dental academia and clinical teaching.

Endorsed by the school to help address the impending shortage of clinical dental educators in Australia, the new short course pathway is unique to the university, offering students with an alternative career pathway into academic roles in dentistry.

“It encourages dental students to think beyond private practice after graduation and pursue their future career in dental academia,” said Babak Sarrafpour, PhD, director of the initiative.

The pathway involves three new elective modules, Clinical Teaching, Leadership, and Fundamentals of Teaching, which draws inspiration from the program developed by associate professor Zsuzsa Horvath, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

Launched earlier this year, the first group of students recently completed the first Clinical Teaching module.

“I was originally attracted to the elective because I’ve always been very interested in teaching. For me, this is because I have been very lucky to have some incredible clinical educators throughout dentistry, who really, really positively influenced my learning,” said student Yasmin Samiee.

“I have to say I really enjoyed the program. I loved hearing from different guest speakers during our weekly tutorials and then applying that theoretical knowledge to our practical teaching soon afterwards,” Samiee said.

“If you’re interested in pursuing a career in academia or becoming a clinical educator in the future, I think that this elective program will give you the perfect foundation for doing exactly that,” said Samiee.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I learned a lot from the guest speakers and from our supervisors during our simulation clinic sessions,” said student Anthony Tammine. “I would highly recommend this program to any student who is considering work as a clinical educator or academic in the future.”

“The clinical teaching elective really gave me insight into the ways that we’re taught and how we learn in dentistry. I now have a deeper understanding of different styles of teaching and understanding and not only through the perspective of a student but also that of an educator as well,” said student Krystal Hakkaart.

“If every clinical educator took this course, we would definitely have an increase in measurable positive outcomes in clinical and pre-clinical situations,” said Hakkaart.

“This elective has opened up a pathway and provided an insight into what teaching philosophies are, better communication skills, and what life as an academic really is,” said student Sarah Wood. “It’s just one more door in dentistry that’s been open to us, and it can lead to really great things.”

“The opportunity to hear from some really experienced clinical educators about their teaching philosophies and their styles and then being able to take this knowledge and put it into practice in the simulation was invaluable,” said student Louisa Zambetti.

“It also gave us the opportunity to improve on some of our communication skills and things that are not necessarily restricted to a teaching environment, but also things that we can translate into our clinical practice and also to patient education,” said Zambetti.

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