Introduction to Dentistry (DENT 221), a two unit dentistry elective offered in the Spring semester, gives students the opportunity to see what the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC (hyperlink underlined portion, http://dentistry.usc.edu/) is all about. Professor Mahvash Navazesh, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Life, designed the elective course to provide pre-dental undergrads with a view of how the USC dental School functions and interacts.
“[Students] indirectly get a taste of what dental student life will be like at USC,” Navazesh said.
Instead of being lecture-based like most pre-dental courses, DENT 221 is similar to a course offered by the dental school with specific case-based topics and hands-on laboratories.
During hands-on labs, students work with plastic teeth and practice cutting and shaping. Students, also are given the opportunity to choose their own research project topics.
“It gives you better appreciation for [skill development in dentistry] when you actually get to apply the learned knowledge in a laboratory or clinical setting,” Navazesh said.
Through this introduction of dental student activities, students can experience the importance of hand-eye coordination, artistic ability and tolerance of small-scaled working conditions. Some examples of lab work include taking impressions, fabricating bleaching trays, and making molds of teeth.
“Most students will say that their favorite part of the class is the labs because it’s interactive and teaches you a neat skill,” said USC junior Steven Do.
In addition to hands-on learning, the course takes a real life approach on dentistry as it covers dentistry-related policies and governing, specialty programs, patient management, oral health related topics and contemporary issues. By studying different aspects of modern dentistry, students can look beyond what they see in typical private practice dentistry.
“Dentistry is a fountain of opportunity,” Navazesh said, referring to the opportunities in innovation, education, patient care, leadership and community services that dental students can pursue while at Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.
Furthermore, DENT 221 allows pre-dental students to form a closer association with the USC dental school students because the course’s teaching assistants are USC dental school seniors.
Dr. Navazesh encourages students to frankly discuss questions about the course with her and the teaching assistants. She uses the feedbacks to better adapt the course to fit student needs. For example, the students get to choose the major learning outcomes of the course based on the evolving new information or established facts. The outcomes vary each year based on the group’s interest.
“I want to inspire the students to learn collaboratively and actively,” Navazesh said.