Finding Silver Linings
Throughout an extraordinary year,
Harvard School of Dental Medicine educators and students found ways to turn challenges into opportunities. When faced with adapting to virtual learning formats during the pandemic, they saw the opportunity to study how to best deliver dental education in new and uncharted territory. The outcome of their published research could shape the future of dental education for years to come.
Faculty members like Hiroe Ohyama, assistant professor of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences and director of Predoctoral Operative Dentistry, recognized that students felt distant during remote learning and realized the best way to engage them would be to include them in the process of examining new learning models.
“We conducted several survey studies remotely, but together. We learned the importance of minimizing student fatigue and improving student engagement during remote lectures, and the advantage of faculty giving lectures with more case-based interactive activities, among other findings,” Ohyama said.
Faculty and student research resulted in a series of papers published in the Journal of Dental Education. Ohyama was recognized with a national award from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) for her innovative work.
Faculty also found creative ways to deliver course content, even sending kits and instruments to students at home. Despite pauses in clinical time, all students in the Class of 2021 graduated on time—an accomplishment Dean William Giannobile credits to faculty members going above and beyond to help students complete their requirements.
“Dental education has a very interactive curriculum and invaluable aspects to faculty-student interactions that can never be replaced. However, we needed to establish effective alternative educational environments and tools.”
-Hiroe Ohyama, assistant professor of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences and director of Predoctoral Operative Dentistry
By the numbers: Class of 2025
The DMD Class of 2025 is comprised of
of new students
coming from populations underrepresented in dental medicine
1/3 of the new students coming from populations underrepresented in dental medicine.
“I feel like we’ve achieved the proper dental education that we set out to achieve — I think that’s quite remarkable. I think that speaks to the resilience of our class, as well as the efforts of the school.”
-Daniel M. Roistacher, DMD21