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Week of January 21, 2013

Two-week international program showcases academic, organized dentistry

For many, it was their first trip thousands of miles from their home country to the U.S. It was an experience they will never forget.

They were impressed with what they saw, what they experienced, and those they talked to, not only at the School of Dentistry, but elsewhere across Michigan.

The school recently hosted 22 students, faculty members and deans from six countries — Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, Colombia, England, and Spain — as part of the its new Global Oral Health Initiative. The two-week event, labeled the “United Nations Program,” was held to coincide with U-M Student Global Health Day.

Following the end of the school’s program, Dr. Yvonne Kapila, director of the Global Oral Health Initiative, said, “This first program turned out even better than we thought it would when we began working on it a year ago.”

The school’s international guests attended classes, watched dental and dental hygiene students and faculty working together to help patients in clinics, talked to researchers, made presentations about dental education in their countries, attended a keynote presentation by Dr. Habib Benzian who spoke about international and dental public health, and visited other facilities on the U-M campus.

With help from Dr. Ronald Paler (DDS 1961), the international students also traveled to venues outside of Ann Arbor to get a broader perspective about interrelationships between academic dentistry and organized dentistry.

They traveled to MDA headquarters in Okemos, a dental laboratory in Westland, and the Detroit District Dental Society office in Livonia.

“As we planned the two-week program, we thought it was important that our international guests see first-hand the role organized dentistry plays,” Kapila said. “They gained a better understanding of how academic dentistry and organized dentistry reinforce each other so patients receive the best care possible.”

Deans, faculty members, and students from the six countries said they were impressed with the School of Dentistry.

“You have an outstanding dental school,” said Francis Adu-Ababio, dean of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. “I’m impressed that your faculty are doing so much, not just teaching and providing patient care, but also conducting research and being involved in helping people in other communities where there is a need for dental care.”

The dean of the University of Ghana Dental School, Grace Parkins, was impressed with the number of faculty members at the School of Dentistry.

“I was also pleased to learn how highly valued faculty members with Ph.D.s are. That emphasis Michigan places on faculty members with Ph.D.s is something our vice chancellor continues to emphasize as important to the future of dental education in Ghana.”

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