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The following was written by Alec Eidelman, D18, who reflected on his and his classmates’ service work as part of the Oral Health Promotion course.
If you catch a first year dental student outside of the gross anatomy lab, inside the simulation clinic, or enduring late nights in the library you may be surprised to hear the enthusiasm they have for the profession that awaits them. Long hours studying fundamental science seem shorter knowing it will provide valuable confidence during patient care. However, no textbook can truly replicate patient interaction.
Like so many procedures done at Tufts School of Dental Medicine, this one starts with an impression—not of a tooth, though, but of an ear or other facial feature. From that, maxillofacial prosthodontist Sujey Morgan casts an exact replica, in this case, a silicone prosthetic ear for a little boy born without one.
Among the skills a dentist must possess—clinical knowledge, nimble hands—the ability to listen to and communicate with patients has become more important than ever. As health care moves toward a more patient-centered model and as patients often arrive in the operatory with information they have gathered from the Internet or other sources, the ability to guide them to sound decisions about treatment is an essential part of your health-care toolkit.