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Canadian Dental Schools

Dental Student Placements: Gaining Valuable Professional Experience

I met Kerri-Lyn Chong for the first time on the day of the interview. Speaking with her, I discovered a bright ambitious and forward looking student who was getting ready to jump into the dental professional world. Kerri undertook two placements, a local and an international one, that in her view prepared her to experience the every-day dental profession and to practice much of what she has been learning in dental school at UBC. 

It was a pleasure to host her on CDA Oasis and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Please share your feedback and suggestions with us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc,ca

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager


Kerri-Lyn Chong, a dental student at the Faculty of Dentistry at UBC, shares her experiences from two local and international placements that she recently completed. Kerri seized the opportunities to apply what she has been learning in dental school to “real world situations” that cannot be duplicated in a dental school clinic setting.

Her local placement within BC as part of the Summer Student Practitioner program, occurred between 3rd and 4th year.  She was issued a temporary license, by the College of Dental Surgeons of BC, and mentored by a community dentist, Dr. Ash Varma (Powell River, BC) and with Dr. James Singer (Castlegar, BC). In this placement, she was able to perform various dental procedures and be exposed to the practice and patient management which occurs in dental practice. Additionally, she was able to experience life in a much smaller community as compared to urban centres, such as Vancouver or Toronto.

The international exchange program afforded Kerri and a few other students the chance to go to Niigata, Japan while students from Japan traveled to Vancouver. While in Japan, students learned in classrooms with Japanese dental students and observed in the clinics and OR. Japanese schools are technologically advanced. Of the 29 dental programs in Japan, only 2 programs actually treat live patients. The majority of the clinical experience relies on robots or technology. Using a 3D simulator and watching a screen, a hand piece is manipulated to simulate cutting a prep and there is tactile feedback if an error is made. In some schools, the patient is also a robot which simulates human characteristics such as movement, saliva production, blinking and even, screaming.

After school and on weekends, students experienced Japanese culture. The mindset in Japan is very different from the North American culture. Japanese are mindful and considerate of others and are accountable for their own actions. Kerri is trying to incorporate these attitudes into her own practices so she can become more self-reflective and compassionate towards her patients.

Kerri feels that becoming involved in dental student organizations is important to effect changes within dental schools. Additionally, volunteering in community care clinics gives students a rewarding and worthwhile experience.

Full Interview (9.40″)


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