by Susan T. Hill, Administrative Director, NJDS Division of Continuing Dental Education
As the instructor performs the latest techniques in esthetic dentistry, 30 students sit at their own operatories and watch their computer monitors. There are no heads to look over or slides to watch. When a student wants to review a step, she can easily play back the session. As the class practices what it's learned, the instructor can view individual operators by pressing a button or speak to them by headset. The manikins are not "heads on sticks," but life-like, anatomically correct patient simulators with all corresponding morphological details.
Sound like a fantasy? Come fall of this year, such a scenario will be fact at NJDS's world-class Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC). The center will bring students, alumni, and community dentists as close to a real patient experience as inhumanly possible.
From a practicing dentist's perspective, ATEC will be one of the most outstanding opportunities for "hands-on" continuing dental education (CDE) in the United States today. There will be no need to travel outside of New Jersey to learn about the latest materials, most advanced techniques, and state-of-the-art technologies as demonstrated by experts and pioneers in contemporary dentistry. These opportunities will be as close as the Medical Sciences Building's C Level, home to ATEC.
In this hands-on teaching facility, practitioners will find 30 fully equipped, simulated operatories complete with realistic patient simulators, digital radiography equipment, lasers, digital intraoral imaging equipment, and fiber optic systems. In addition, each operatory has advanced capability multimedia equipment: a sophisticated networked computer system with Internet access and individual real-time video camera and microphone for interactive video and audio transmission and recording.
Under the leadership of Dean Robert Saporito and with the assistance of the ATEC committee (see pg. 8), the center has been planned and expertly designed to be the premiere venue for experiencing and mastering contemporary dentistry. From ATEC's instructor's module, students will see demonstrations come to life, as they watch the experts work in real time with the same materials and techniques each dentist uses at their own ATEC simulation unit and then at their office operatories.
Esthetic dentistry will be the first in a series of ATEC- based CDE activities presented by world-renowned clinicians. These programs, presented in a continuum format, include several well-sequenced, clinically oriented, two-day sessions that enable practitioners to systematically develop skills in new, complex procedures and techniques for optimum patient treatment and practice expansion. A small group environment will make each segment highly interactive and provide personal attention and feedback from recognized leaders. Other CDE continuum programs are planned on implant dentistry, endodontics, and prosthodontics.
Future ATEC activities will enable practitioners to explore new technologies, develop and assess products and new materials, explore information technology, access and transmit distance learning to remote facilities and Internet sites, and experience virtual reality dentistry. ATEC also offers many opportunities for research that might be impractical on patients, as well as clinical technique evaluations, equipment trials, and time-motion studies.
Pre- and post-doctoral students will also reap the benefits of ATEC, as this advanced simulation experience will be incorporated into the curriculum. ATEC will provide dental students with early experience in close-to-patient and operatory conditions, with students learning to work precisely and ergonomically. All important anatomical dimensions and reference planes of the simulator are matched to the human patient. Students, therefore, have a "predictable patient" for the best possible treatment simulation. The goal is for the transition from simulation to human to proceed smoothly and effectively for the benefit of both student and patient. Students will also have guided access to ATEC's multiple advanced technologies in the "operatory of the future."
Dr. Martin Prager , Clinical instructor of General and Hospital Dentistry and Orthodontics
Dr. Van Thompson, Professor of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials and General and Hospital Dentistry
Dr. Cecile Feldman, Associate dean for the Office of Planning and Assessment
Dr. Michael Sanders ('78), Acting chair of General and Hospital Dentistry
Dr. Joseph Battaglia ('79), Clinical assistant professor of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials and president of the NJDS Alumni Association
Dr. Kristine Mosier, Assistant professor of Oral Pathology, Biology and Diagnostic Sciences
Dr. Blaise Curcio ('66), Associate professor of clinical General and Hospital Dentistry
Dr. Saul Weiner, Professor of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials
Dr. Paul Desjardins, Associate dean for Academic Affairs
William Allen, Director of Facility Administration and Materials Management
Susan Hill, Administrative director for Continuing Dental Education