A unique degree course aimed at dental care professionals will be launched at the University of Kent’s Medway campus this autumn.
The BSc in Primary Dental Care – believed to be the first degree of its kind in the United Kingdom – is for qualified professionals such as dental nurses, hygienists and therapists, orthodontic therapists and clinical dental technicians.
A flexible timetable for the degree programme at Medway, including weekend teaching sessions and an emphasis on work-based learning, means that dental staff will, for the first time, be able to combine their normal work duties with study for a Bachelors-level qualification.
The programme has been devised by the University in response to a drive by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery – the organisation which oversees postgraduate medical and dental education – to provide a method for dental care professionals to gain new skills and broader knowledge through better access to higher education.
The degree will also play a major part in the Continuous Professional Development of staff. As well as being professionally qualified, all students taking the course will be registered with the General Dental Council.
Debbie Reed, course director for the new degree and lecturer in the University’s Division of Dentistry, said the profession was entering a new era of work-based education, leading to enhanced skills for dental care professionals and, ultimately, higher standards of patient care. She said: ‘It’s exciting to be launching such an innovative new degree. The BSc is really about ‘whole team’ dentistry. This means that every member of the dental care team needs to keep up with new practices and to show leadership, take responsibility and enhance the quality of patient care.
‘The programme also seeks to equip dental care workers for longer and more rewarding careers, which will see more of them staying in the sector. Through a mix of greater professional and academic development, including research skills, we hope to keep people interested and motivated in their jobs for the long-term.’
Course modules include lifelong learning; critical appraisal of dental health publications; diet and nutrition; teamwork and management; and oral health education and health promotion. The study of international dental care practice, mentorship and various research projects are also available to students.
The BSc, which starts in September, can be studied for three years full-time, or for up to six years as a flexible learning programme.