For Suna Guray (at left) and Rebecca Dowling, a well-rounded dental education included a flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to the University of Maryland (UM) School of Dentistry.
The dental students explored the School's clinics, labs, and classrooms during a recent two-week externship. "I wanted to broaden my horizons and see what dentistry is like in a different country," says Guray. The School of Dentistry-the first dental college in the world-"seemed like the right place to go," she says.
Guray and Dowling are senior dental students at Trinity College Dublin. The historic college, founded in 1592, is home to one of Ireland's three dental schools.
Dowling says the biggest difference between the dental school at Trinity and the UM School of Dentistry is the size. Trinity enrolls only 40 students per class and has a smaller dental clinic than UM which admits more than 100 each year. Also, unlike at UM, there is not a clearly defined department for each dentistry education specialty at Trinity.
The dental school at Trinity College offers a five-year program that students begin upon graduation from high school. After spending their first year completing intense science courses, the students move on to simulation, small-group learning, and, eventually, live patient treatment. Dowling says the progressions are similar to those at UM.
During their externship, Dowling and Guray observed residents prepare and place implants in the clinics. They also explored the pioneering technology of digital dentistry in the Dream Room, a predoctoral clinic designated to provide treatment and education through the use of emerging technology.
After exploring the Dream Room, both students said that such cutting-edge technology makes the University of Maryland School of Dentistry an impressive institution. Guray also commented that its online curriculum and Mediasite lectures give students incredible opportunities to discover how they learn best.
The Irish dental students say they were especially interested in how the latest technology in the Dream Room, such as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) machines, is incorporated into the curriculum. The machines run on software that helps dentists manufacture crowns, inlays, onlays, and veneers, with choices of dental materials.
"I'm glad I got to see that this kind of technology is being used," Dowling says. "It's only a matter of time before it spreads across the water."
The students also toured the Baltimore Inner Harbor, took a day trip to Washington, D.C. and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Artscape, the annual arts festival in Baltimore, featuring literary readings, poetry performances, and literary arts workshops.
Despite the summertime heat and humidity in the city, which are not as intense in Ireland, they said they thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Maryland, especially the digital dental school. "This experience has given me a better picture of dentistry," Guray says. "It's good to see it from a different perspective."