patient care. Linkages between dentistry and medicine are insufficient to prepare students for a growing volume of patients with more medically complex problems and an increase in medically oriented strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The basic and clinical sciences do not adequately relate the scientific basis of oral health to clinical practice. Lack of flexible tenure and promotion policies and of resources for faculty development limits efforts to match faculty resources to educational needs. Despite progress, an insensitivity to students' needs is still a concern.

In the hope of stimulating movement toward generally held goals, the committee proposes that each dental school develop a plan and timetable for curriculum reform. It urges closer integration of dental and medical education and more experimentation with new formats for such integration.

The Mission Of Research

Research is a fundamental mission of dental education, but too many dental schools and dental faculty are minimally involved in research and scholarship. A commitment to research in dental schools is important because research builds a knowledge base for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of oral health services; enriches the educational experience for students; reinforces the school's role as a disseminator of validated practice advice to dental practitioners; and strengthens the stature of dentistry within the university and the broader community.

The committee recognizes the problems facing schools that are trying to build or maintain a strong research program. These are, most notably, limited funding and a dearth of capable researchers. Expanding the oral health research work force is an important priority.

Dental schools will differ in how they define the specifics of their research priorities, but all schools need to formulate a program of faculty research and scholarly activity that meets or exceeds the expectations of their universities. To build research capacity and resources, as well as to foster relationships with other researchers, it is important for dental schools to pursue collaborative research opportunities that start with the academic health center or the university and extend to industry, government, dental societies, and other institutions able to support or assist basic science, clinical, and health services research. Throughout this report, the committee has tried to point out opportunities for

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement