Dental Education

The changing climate of dental practice from the late 1970s into the 1980s and a heightened awareness of ethical issues throughout the dental profession in that period also brought about changes in dental schools. Until that time few dental schools had formal programs in dental ethics. Inspirational lectures by respected senior faculty members or local or national heroes were the standard fare (Odom). However, with prompting from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), then called the American Association of Dental Schools, as well as the ACD, and the ADA, many dental schools began offering formal programs in dental ethics. They identified faculty members with an interest in dental ethics who began to develop curricular materials and network with the faculty in other institutions. For example, the University of Minnesota pioneered an innovative four-year curriculum in dental ethics in the early 1980s. With the founding of PEDNET, dental-ethics educators acquired a major resource for their teaching and a locus for scholarly discussions of issues in dental ethics at the national level both at annual meetings and at biennial workshops on teaching dental ethics.

During the 1990s, several new textbooks were published (Rule and Veatch; Weinstein; Ozar and Sokol, 1994, 2002) and additional educational programs and materials were developed for use in the classroom, in the clinic, and in continuing education programs. By the beginning of the new millennium, most dental schools had multiyear curricula in dental ethics in place (Zarkowski and Graham) and significant efforts were under way to integrate dental ethics education into the innovative patient-centered and problem-based-learning curricula that are the hallmark of contemporary dental school education.

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