Digital technologies are now main-stream in dental practice and provide unparalleled flexibility and consistency in the delivery of dental treatment. This project will establish the fundamental elements of a digital environment for clinical practice of dental students at UWA by developing the existing capacities in the School of Dentistry which are: dental Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Qualtrix survey software and project management software (MS Project). The possibility of integrating and streamlining these technologies to create a more modern, immersive and attractive learning environment, will have a direct bearing on increasing student satisfaction throughout the dental course. In addition to providing the School with a unique opportunity, to develop a unified and modern protocol of implementation for this technology in its teaching, research and service.
The key element of the project aims to use these technologies for clinical practice consisting of 3 major modules:
- Diagnosis, treatment planning and communication: students will use the optical impressions and other digital dental imaging data to complement the clinical examination, using the dental CAD/CAM software they will plan the treatment for the specific patient and use the generated 3D files to communicate this to the supervising staff and patient.
- Clinical scheduling: students will use MS Project to plan and manage the individual appointments for every patient. Using SharePoint, this will be accessible in real-time to supervising staff, thus facilitating and expediting the review and approval of treatment plans. The approved treatment plan is then digitally transferred to the patient management software utilised in the clinics of the Dental School, known as Titanium.
- Clinical assessment: use of customised versions of online surveys as an assessment tool that will allow the School and the student to track, in real-time, the quality and time taken for completing the required clinical competencies, as well as the level of assistance received in the clinic from the tutoring staff. This also provides the student with a real-time feedback mechanism that is envisaged to increase the quality of self-directed learning.
This project has been a great success; the result is now a fully operational Dentistry School-wide new clinical assessment system that was rolled out in January 2017. This replaces the previous clinical assessment system that was not fitting the educational needs of the School in terms of assessing the clinical competency of dental students. This new assessment system now allows for tracking the clinical performance of the students during their clinical sessions throughout all the years of their course. The existing platform Qualtrix proved to be too limited for the needs of the project; therefore a stand-alone application was developed from scratch and has had constant improvement applied to it over the second semester of 2016. The development of the system was a joint effort between the School of Dentistry and Prof Thomas Braunl from the School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. As far as the team is aware this system is unique to dental education and can be scaled up to fit almost any other education stream that requires competency-based assessment.