Back to BaSiCS

At TUSDM, the Office of Academic Affairs, in partnership with the Department of Diagnosis and Health Promotion, is rolling out a new program to help students learn to care for the whole patient.

 Dr. Nadeem Karimbux (Photo by Kelvin Ma for Tufts University Photography)

BaSiCS, which stands for “Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series” is a program designed to bring dental students together in team to accomplish a clinical case presentation. Part of the Tufts 2020 Oral Health Curriculum, it’s currently being piloted by students and is slated to go school wide this fall. If successful, it will replace the case presentations the fourth year students currently participate in.

“The program captures many of our objectives for the school,” said Dr. Nadeem Karimbux, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

The BaSiCS Program will operate by generating teams of four students, with each class year represented, to present a clinical case study for fellow students and faculty. Each member of the group will have a specific role: the fourth year student will identify the patient, lead the group and complete the case; the third year student will utilize evidence-based dentistry approaches to answer a clinical question of interest related to the case; the second year students will present on medical condition of the patient; and the first year student will present on an item of normal anatomy or physiology. The small groups will be combined into cohorts of 16 students, who will make up the audience for the case presentations. Two mentoring faculty members, representing basic and clinical science, will be assigned to two cohorts to help guide them in their work.

Dr. Karimbux says the program responds to many of the objectives identified by three recent initiatives: the curriculum revision process, the 2020! Vision Strategic Plan, and the Accreditation Self-Study. Similar programs have been instituted at New York University College of Dentistry and Marquette University School of Dentistry. Through BaSiCS, students will learn to work in a team-based environment, discuss issues of culture and diversity pertinent to clinical care, integrate basic and clinical sciences in a practical application, and develop leadership skills. The program even integrates technical skills such as clinical photography earlier in the students’ educations.

“Each of these three initiatives has had multiple faculty and staff groups look into them and express what they would like to achieve here at the school,” Dr. Karimbux said. “This program is really a result of distilling those objectives and trying to figure out how to get them done in a school that’s our size.”

To pilot the program, a group of 16 students (four from each class) were chosen to follow the program guidelines and highlight the benefits and challenges the program poses. They were introduced to the program in December, and are expected to give their presentations in April. Dr. Edward Fidrocki, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Diagnosis and Health Promotion, and Dr. Kathryn Ragalis, Associate Professor in the Department of Diagnosis and Health Promotion, have been mentoring these groups. Amanda Merikas, D15, one of the student pilots, said that the project has been a challenging but exciting way to engage with her dental education.

“It is really rewarding to bring together all of the knowledge one accumulates over the course of their dental education in this fashion,” she said. “We are all eager to see the results and continue participating in the BaSiCS program in the coming years.”

Right now the largest challenge the Office of Academic Affairs faces is simple logistics – how to coordinate the student’s schedules and schedule the case presentations, as well as the recruitment of enthusiastic faculty mentors.

“We still have a very traditional way of teaching and learning here,” Dr. Karimbux said. “That is, you go and learn biochemistry, or gross anatomy, but you don’t always think about the patient in terms of whole patient care because you’re learning about procedures in different areas. We want to incorporate using the patient as the center of learning activities.”