Guidance for the core content of a Curriculum in Special Care Dentistry at the undergraduate level

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Abstract

Given the rapidly changing demography of populations worldwide, dental professionals of the future need to be able to meet the challenge posed by the evolving landscape in health care needs. Leading institutions are now embedding teaching and learning in special care dentistry (SCD) within their curricula, to provide students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet the oral health needs of vulnerable groups within their communities. The International Association for Disability and Oral Health (iADH) has initiated the development of undergraduate curriculum guidance in SCD through a consensus process. The curriculum in SCD is defined in statements of learning outcomes with many of the skills being transferable across the undergraduate course. This curriculum includes examples of teaching and assessment, designed to enhance critical thinking in relation to SCD and to promote positive attitudes towards disability and diversity. The learning outcomes are designed to be readily adapted to conform to the generic profiles and competencies, already identified in undergraduate frameworks by global educational associations, as well as meeting the requirements of professional regulatory bodies worldwide. Suggestions for teaching and learning are not intended to be prescriptive; rather, they act as a signpost to possible routes to student learning. Ideally, this will require that students have a sufficiently diverse patient case mix during their undergraduate studies, to achieve the required levels of confidence and competence by the time they graduate. Clinical care competencies in SCD emphasise the need for learners to broaden their theoretical knowledge and understanding through practical experience in providing care for people with special health care needs. It is crucial to the development of equitable dental services for all members of a community, that these learning outcomes are embedded into evolving curricula but most importantly, that they are evaluated and refined in a dynamic way with shared learning for all teachers.

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