How can dental public health competencies be addressed at the undergraduate level?

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Abstract

Objectives:

To discuss the extent to which an undergraduate dental module addresses dental public health competencies via its different learning pedagogies and to explore the relevance of students' written reflections on these dental public health competencies.

Methods:

This article uses a literature review to situate the extent to which dental public health competencies are addressed by the University of British Columbia undergraduate dental module entitled “Professionalism and Community Services” (PACS). It also uses students' written individual self-reflections (between 100 and 500 words) on community service learning activities to critically illustrate how dental public health competencies support their learning.

Results:

The PACS dental module is delivered to undergraduate students in all 4 years, more than 190 in total, and addresses six dental public health competencies, including oral health promotion, ethics, and evidence-based practice. The multifaceted pedagogical approach employed to discuss aspects of dentistry related to dental public health includes guest lectures, community activities, small group activities, self-reflection, and reports.

Conclusions:

Given the falling number of dental public health professionals in North America, the discussed undergraduate pedagogy aims to sensitize future dentists to a career focused on dental public health. Through reflections, students pondered ideas related to dental public health; they also engaged in developing meaningful activities in various underserved communities. Further studies are needed to evaluate the influence of this community-based curriculum upon students' practice choice.

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