CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
Renovations bring high-tech teaching to UI College of Dentistry
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Students at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry
are learning many aspects of patient care with help from 80 new "patients"
-- advanced dental simulator units that let instructors offer more realistic
The units fill the Simulation Clinic, the centerpiece of the college's
most ambitious renovation project in 25 years. The facility is perhaps
the most advanced classroom of its kind in the nation. It also accommodates
the college's growing array of high-tech educational resources, including
World Wide Web-based instructional materials, interactive teaching tools
that stress problem solving, and electronic clinic records.
"The Simulation Clinic and accompanying facilities are changing
the way we teach at all levels, from first-year students to practicing
dentists in continuing education courses," said David Johnsen, D.D.S.,
dean of the college. "The facilities have exceeded our greatest expectations."
Students learn procedures on models of teeth called dentiforms, which
in the past were mounted on benches or held in the hand. Despite ingenious
efforts to more realistically position dentiforms -- for instance, attaching
them to poles laid in dental chairs -- the experience gave students limited
preparation for treating real people.
The Simulation Clinic has changed all that. Each simulator in the new
facility features a mannequin that reclines as if it were in the dental
chair. Students immediately learn to approach their work from above and
behind, using mirrors and other instruments as they will with real patients.
The mannequin's rubber cheeks and realistic jaw simulate the mouth's structure.
The facility has other advantages as well. It weaves some 14 miles of
electronic cable into an information network that transmits video demonstrations
to each student workstation. The system overcomes another traditional problem
in dental education -- the ability to clearly view a demonstration by looking
over an instructor's shoulder.
The video system offers multiple views of instructors at work, magnified
to provide a close-up view of delicate procedures. Demonstrations can be
taped and replayed as students repeat procedures themselves. The system
also can be used to show slide images, X-rays and other helpful information.
Three radiology rooms within the Simulation Clinic let students practice
making their own X-rays. Every student workstation is wired to accept a
laptop computer, which someday may allow students to look up information
on the Internet or the college's forthcoming electronic Oral Health Information
The Simulation Clinic is part of a $3.7 million renovation to education
facilities at the UI Dental Science Building. The project also includes
a support laboratory for pouring models and crafting dental appliances,
a central dispensary for instrument and supply check out, a bench laboratory
available after regular class hours, a 40-seat electronic classroom, faculty
offices and a grading room.
Work on the facilities was completed late last year. Support from the
college and the UI, private donations and a tuition surcharge for dental
students funded the project.
The Simulation Clinic is designed primarily for first- and second-year
students, but it is available to third-year students who want to polish
their skills and fourth-year students preparing for dental board examinations.
In January it also was the site for a hands-on continuing education course
open to practicing dentists.