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Course sets an example for integrating Global Health into UW Dental School Curriculum

DENTEL-520Dental students have demonstrated an interest in international topics but are largely unaware of global health topics. To improve students’ global health awareness, the University of Washington (UW) Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health at the UW School of Dentistry (UWSOD) created an elective course for dental and public health students. In 2018, UW began a partnership with Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) aimed to increase global oral health courses at educational institutions. Belle Chen (2020 graduate) received the 2019 Academic Careers in Oral Health Fellowship for her work in facilitating and developing the course integration. The result of this collaboration will be featured in Annals of Global Health, showing the effect on students’ knowledge and attitude towards global health.

The integration of global oral health into the dental curriculum increases an understanding of the current global environment, raises awareness for the global burden of oral disease and health inequities. Undergraduate, pre- and post-doctorate students from the Schools of Dentistry and Public Health not only increased their knowledge of these topics, but they also had the opportunity to meet and work with colleagues from different health professions. Students worked together on a final group project to create a research question for a project of their choice. This interprofessional exchange of ideas and perspectives provided an invaluable experience for students. Overall, creating this collaboration with Harvard sets an example for other institutions to follow in integrating global health courses into the dental school curriculum.

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