July 09, 2007

Push-ups for orthodontic boot camp

Shape up and get ready for orthodontics.

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After filling out all the orientation paperwork for the advanced graduate program in orthodontics, five new orthodontic residents face some tough "push-ups" in boot camp at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

Dressed in military gear, Richard Griffith (DEN '78, '80) and William Koenig (DEN '80), orthodontic clinical instructors and alumni of the orthodontic program, blow their whistles and line up Lisa A. Austin (DEN '04), Nikolaos Evangelinakis (D.D.S., Aristotle University of Tessaloniki, Greece), David J. Sullivan (D.D.S., University of Southern California), Monica Velez (D.M.D., University of Puerto Rico) and Xing-Zhong Zhang (D.D.S., Beijing Medical University, School of Stomatology) for a challenging and accelerated period of mental training and practice.

The instructors put the residents through some rigorous calisthenics of basic clinical operations and terminology in preparation for the students' first day in the orthodontic clinic. Then the newly oriented residents are handed a caseload of 50 patients that they will see over the next 30 months, from the start of their orthodontic treatment to its completion.

The rigorous clinical experience at Case Western Reserve University is considered one of the hallmarks of the School of Dental Medicine's graduate program in orthodontics according to Mark Hans, chair of the department. "From the first day that students arrive on June 15, they need to be ready to work," said Hans.

"Our program is structured in a unique way around a "big sister and brother" vertical integration where you have a first-year student, second-year student, and third-year student working as a vertical team. Patients are assigned to a team, but the first-year student is expected to see a set of patients from the beginning of treatment to its completion," Hans added. In this vertical team, the older students act as mentors to the new student.

According to Dennis Beeson, director of the orthodontic clinic, students come from different schools with different ways of doing things. "We wanted to have a fun experience to introduce students to our program. The idea has stuck," he said.

The boot camp session was started about four years ago when residents were asked how the program could be improved. Griffith said that a number of residents commented that they needed to learn the basic language of orthodontics and some basic clinical practices to help them all start at the same place.

Griffith recalls that a former resident in the program, who had been a Navy SEAL, chimed in, "It sounds like boot camp."

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, July 9, 2007 10:31 AM | News Topics:

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