International Dental Student Engagement: Oral Health Education in the City


From the 19th to the 27th May 2016, six American dental students from Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) joined their six Newcastle dental student ‘buddies’ to dip their toes (some may say, sink their teeth) into the life of a dental student at Newcastle University.

This is the first time within any university in UK and US where dental students have been involved in exchange activities.

Attracted by our established and vibrant oral health education outreach programme across Newcastle (led by Drs Paula Waterhouse and Richard Holmes), the visitors worked in partnership with their Newcastle buddies and immersed themselves into planning and providing oral health education to various community groups including schools, care homes and drop-in centres to support asylum seekers and homeless adults. They also experienced ‘a week in the life of a Newcastle Dental student’ by shadowing student and staff treatment clinics and technique courses. The students were encouraged to reflect upon and compare the US healthcare system with that of the UK and to understand the role played by our local City Council and Community Dental Services in ensuring oral health education reaches the communities most in need.

As part of our students’ elective studies, this innovative new programme endeavours to deliver the 6 Newcastle students on a reciprocal visit to Indiana in July 2017; building on trans-Atlantic friendships and experiences. Accompanying the students were two academic colleagues from IUSD providing a unique opportunity to forge clinical educational collaboration and educational research collaboration between our respective institutions.

The feedback has been enormously positive from both the staff and the students but may be summarised by a comment from their staff leads Drs Stuart Schrader and Joan Kowolik, “our students had a wonderful time and the experience was absolutely transformative”.

Dr Paula Waterhouse, School of Dental Sciences

Image legend: Newcastle and Indiana students celebrating a successful week of collaborative learning.

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