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Exchange Program Benefits UI Health, Chinese Dentistry Students

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chinese Dentistry StudentsThe University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry is conducting educational exchanges with two dental schools in China, enabling participants to learn from the differences in clinical care, medical education and culture at the institutions.

Last year, the college entered into formal agreements with the two schools, the Guanghua School of Stomatology at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou and the West China School of Stomatology in Szechwan. Stomatology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the mouth and mouth disease.

As part of the agreement, UI Health dental students have the option of performing one of their fourth-year clinical rotations at the schools. "They may see cases that students here would never see," says Christine Wu, PhD, professor of pediatric dentistry, who was part of the team that created the collaboration with the Chinese schools. "In China, dentistry is not just about the mouth, it's about the whole head. They have patients who have oral cancer, tumors of the face, facial reconstruction."

Illinois StudentsFour Illinois students spent a four-week rotation at the Guanghua school in April 2012. "We saw lots of cleft palate cases and other types of cases we only see in textbooks in the U.S. Here, we would use a huge team for cleft palate, but there, the oral surgeon did it all himself," says one of the students, Stefan Bergeron, who graduated last year.

A contingent of leaders from the Guanghua school visited the UIC College of Dentistry on Sept. 19, 2012. The group included Dean Ling Junqi, Vice Deans Cheng Bin and Huang Hongzhang (vice president of the Chinese Stomatology Association) and several other officials. They met with Dean Bruce Graham, DDS, MS, MEd, and other college officials to discuss dental education, dental clinics and research.

Plans call for UI Health to host faculty leaders from the West China School for at least half a year in the near future. "They'll come here to learn about our education system and curriculum," Wu says. "We welcome the collaborative relationship, from students up to faculty and deans."