A practicum offered to dental students at the University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada, allows 47 dental students to visit a senior care home and provide dental check-ups on the patients in the home. This practicum allows the residents the opportunity to receive the dental treatment they may need in the comfort of their residence. It also affords the students with invaluable in-field experience, all under the watchful supervision of a fully-certified dental hygienist. The students work in pairs, one student checking the patient while the other records information.
According to dental student Kim Showler, the practicum is a positive experience, and according to Dr. Sharon Compton, the dental programme’s director, the practicum is invaluable to the dental students. “We’ve recognized that to prepare dental hygienists for this kind of work … we needed to get these kinds of experiences for them,” she said.
Before the practicum began, the residents visited off-campus dental facilities, but now, each pair of students is able to visit seven or eight residents in every visit, increasing the turn around and ensuring that any major dental problems do not go undetected.