Dental Education: Contexts and Trends

Flora Smyth Zahra , Sang E A Park

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Educating the current generation of dental students to deliver optimal care is particularly challenging at a time when the rate of both technological and societal changes is particularly rapid and the future role of the clinician is less predictable than with previous cohorts. This chapter considers trends in the delivery of dental education that support a more holistic approach to both patient care and learning given the present societal and regulatory contexts. Considering that the practice of dentistry is arguably one of the most stressful of all the health professions, the current high rates of student mental ill health and the link between burnout and reduced patient care, dental curricula should include self-care and wellness. There must also be more emphasis on the sociocultural determinants of health, critical appraisal skills, and educating for advocacy against global oral health inequalities. To date, the focus on knowledge and technical skills has neglected the vital role of personal and professional identity formation, given that the education of dentists follows a transformational professional development model. The authors advocate active learning through case-based collaborative methods, authentic assessment, and a humanistic learning environment with dialogue and reflection. Emancipatory pedagogy with curricular content that looks beyond the bioscientific to the humanities nurtures students’ personal and professional identity formation through transformational learning and provides them with more strategies for lifetime learning and the complexity of professional practice.


Ambiguity Humanistic Holistic Sociocultural Complexity Advocacy Emancipatory pedagogy Reflexivity Flourishing
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical Education for the Health Professions
EditorsDebra Nestle, Gabriel Reedy, L McKenna, S Gough
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-13-6106-7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2020


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