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I included the above saying in a presentation on the “Rigors of Educational Research,” which I gave to fellow dental educators at the third annual Saudi Dental Educators meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The educators in the workshop spanned all specialties, all ages, and were trained all over the world; some who attended the workshop were Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) alumni. The gist of the saying is that by always having a curious, inquisitive mind about clinical practice, our teaching methods, and the world around us, we remain engaged with our beliefs and question dogma. This leads to reflection, self-assessment, critical thinking, and a yearning to look for solutions, to solve problems, to recreate ourselves and our world.

Workshop participants explored the following curricular and clinical questions regarding educational research:

  1. Do students who attend lecture do “better” than students who do not attend lecture?
  2. Do students who spend more time in preclinical courses do better in clinic than students who do not?
  3. Is there a difference in student motivation in a letter-graded system versus a pass/fail system?
  4. Do students who are required to do more “lab” work during their clinical years become better clinicians than those who do not?
  5. Do students “perform” more clinical work in a requirement-based system versus those who are in a comprehensive care clinic?

These questions and observations could lead to many positive outcomes, including reviews of the literature on the topics, the design of appropriate projects, and hopefully students and faculty who will engage in research in these areas.

On another note, I am often curious about our Vison Statement “Global Leaders in Oral Health.” This is a worthy pursuit and an ambitious goal. Over the last month, I have witnessed multiple examples of how our faculty, students, and staff have a positive impact on both our local and global communities.

Many of our DMD students are leaders of student organizations and are actively involved in civic engagement. Some of their activities will be highlighted during a Lunch and Learn on November 12. Brent Mullen and Keith Nguyen (D20) will present on Team Tufts in the Tough Ruck/Service with a Smile; Tyler Brown and Tyrell Fridie (D21) will present on Future DDS: Outreach to Prospective Dental School Applicants; and Rodrick Wiggins (D22) will discuss Teeth Studios Presents: Terra Cycle/Colgate Oral Care Recycling Initiative.

Earlier this month, I attended a fundraiser for the Muchila Access Project. The event was hosted by Patricia Campbell, Dr. Gerard Kugel, Dr. John Morgan, and Sarah Primeau. Students, faculty, and staff gathered and raised funds toward the completion of a dental and maternal healthcare center in rural Zambia. The students and faculty on many of our global service learning trips are leading efforts to improve the oral health of communities in underserved areas.

During my trip to Saudi Arabia, I saw slides of Dean Erling Johansen, Dean Emeritus Lonnie Norris, and several faculty (Drs. Gerard Kugel and Maria Papageorge) who led the efforts with the development of the curriculum footprint for the King Abdul Aziz University School of Dentistry. Dean Abdul-Ghani Mira and his faculty, students, and staff now have the distinction of being the first dental school outside of the U.S. to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. I also met many TUSDM alumni who have assumed leadership positions in schools in Saudi Arabia as chairs of departments, successful academics, and clinicians who remain committed to their educational experience at TUSDM. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Maisa Al-Sebaei, BDS, MS, DSc, DG04. She is passionate about her clinical work and dedicated to helping her patients and mentor her students and faculty. Click here for a profile on Dr. Al-Sebaei. I also met with Dr. Dina Al-Tayeb (DG02, DG04) who exhibits her leadership by sitting on the TUSDM Board of Advisers and the Tufts University Board of Trustees.

I am extremely proud of how strongly TUSDM is perceived at venues like this.

In order to continue to be “Global Leaders in Oral Health,” I go back to the title of this message and challenge all of us to continue to examine our assumptions, to remain engaged in critical thinking, and to stay focused on solving our everyday problems as we strive to conduct patient care, research, and education.

I wish all our community a Happy and restful Thanksgiving.


Dean Nadeem Karimbux