The chief dental officer for NHS England, Sara Hurley, took a trip to the sunny Solent late last year to officially open the newly refurbished dental team clinic at the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy (UPDA), and hailed the institution a pioneer of dental education.
Following a £1.3 million investment from the university, the new state-of-the-art clinic is designed to encourage teamwork between dental care professional students and student dentists, and the full use of the team’s skill mix. The students will then be fully equipped with an interdisciplinary mindset when they enter clinical practice.
A champion of dental team working, Sara Hurley praised the university’s approach to the clinic refurbishment. ‘A facility like this, training the dental practitioners of the future, is essential – it’s critical’, she said.
‘Portsmouth is in the vanguard and I think we will see a fundamental shift in a number of other training models because of what Portsmouth is doing.
‘I would see a number of other training establishments taking a long hard look at this’.
State of the art
In its first refurbishment since the Dental Academy opened 12 years ago, the 24-bay clinic and adjacent surgeries have been completely overhauled with the latest dental equipment from leading manufacturers and suppliers, and includes state-of-the-art infection control and amalgam suction, and large working bays for inter-team postgraduate training.
The newly refurbished clinic is designed to provide an optimal teaching environment for practising inter-team skills development. Student dental care professionals can practice working alongside student dentists, just as they would in general dental practice. In fact, inter-professional learning is a cornerstone of the UPDA’s educational pathway for its students, preparing them for life in clinic.
‘Inter-professional learning is so critical for the future’, commented the university’s vice chancellor, Graham Galbraith, at the opening ceremony. ‘What we had was good, but what we now have is state-of-the-art, and leading in dental education.’
The clinic will also play a vital role in the UPDA’s ongoing collaboration with King’s College London.
Each year, 80 students from King’s join 75 dental hygiene and therapy students and 20 dental nursing students from UPDA to train and work together in dental practice teams.
The teams provide dental treatment and advice to local residents in Hampshire and the nearby Isle of Wight. This approach means that the UPDA is an integral part of oral healthcare in the local community.
Opening the new clinic, Sara Hurley praised the university’s commitment to dental education: ‘Innovation and education are clearly at the heart of the University of Portsmouth, and the vice chancellor fundamentally cares and understands the mouth is integral part of the body.’
‘The University of Portsmouth’s care, commitment, and compassion emanates beyond the boundaries of the city and the students’, she said. ‘This care and commitment also pushes boundaries.’
The CDO also hailed this team approach to teaching an effective method of ‘futureproofing the development of the dental team’.
‘We need more dental hygienists and therapists as we move from the age of dentistry to the new golden age of dental care – and there is a difference’, she added, stressing the importance of a preventive approach to oral healthcare.
More than 170 students join the UPDA each year. New students to the Academy will now be able to learn in one of them most modern, technological, and forward-thinking environments in the UK.