AKU launches high-tech lab to enhance dental education

Published: August 31, 2017

KARACHI: A one-of-a-kind, high-fidelity dental simulation lab that promises a safer and more effective way to educate dental professionals and students was inaugurated on Wednesday at the Aga Khan University (AKU).
Dentistry requires students to practice precise procedures that affect a sensitive part of the body. Often students have no alternative other than to master these delicate techniques by practicing on patients which is an uncomfortable situation for the novice learner and can also put patients at risk.

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The new dental simulation lab offers an opportunity for minors and practicing dentists to polish these technical skills.
At the newly launched facility, 17 state-of-the-art ‘phantom heads’ – patient mannequins – are available, specially designed to help students learn the skills. Each mannequin contains a full range of dental instruments and tools such as air and water suction and computer-based feedback facilities needed to help students and practicing dentists improve their skills.

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There are many procedures in the nine subspecialties of dentistry, such as gum surgery and the installation of dental implants, which require a great deal of expertise and practice to execute.
Dr Farhan Raza Khan, associate professor of operative dentistry at AKU said, “A simulation lab offers an environment where you can practice until you are ready to treat a patient rather than worry only about their teeth.”

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In a typical session at the facility, an experienced faculty member can demonstrate how to carry out dental restoration on a patient mannequin with the procedure being broadcast simultaneously to all 16 workstation screens. Every student can then follow the instructor’s lead on their own mannequin with the system providing immediate feedback on the success of their attempts.
Centre for Innovation in Medical Education (CIME) Director Dr Charles Docherty stated that the simulation lab offered the advantage of a truly personalised learning experience where each student can practice their own skills at their own pace while the technologically integrated environment-enabled students to become competent at a far quicker speed.

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“The vision of CIME is to seamlessly blend simulation into teaching curricula for medical professionals. Investments like the dental simulation lab will deliver improvements in teaching and learning which will eventually raise standards of practice across the profession,” Dr Docherty added.
The university initially plans to begin using the facility to educate students pursuing a two-year Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree as well as residents undergoing specialised four-year programmes in operative dentistry and orthodontics.

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It will also be available to students from dental schools across the country and practicing professionals interested in continuing professional education in dentistry.

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