Preclinical restorative training.

Michael B. Ferguson, Morton Sobel, Richard Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In conjunction with its problem-based learning curriculum, Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) developed a shortened preclinical restorative training curriculum. This study compared our curriculum with those in other dental schools and examined student reaction to it. Twenty-nine U.S. dental schools responded to a survey regarding the length of their preclinical course in Operative Dentistry. Nationally, preclinical courses ranged from 179 hours to 280 hours (mean +/- SEM = 193 +/- 9 hours; n = 29). In marked contrast, the new seventy-five-hour preclinical curriculum at Harvard was the lowest of any school, and significantly lower than the U.S. average (p < 0.01). In Harvard's previous curriculum, students spent 232 curriculum hours. Reactions of Harvard students to this compact preclinical curriculum were surveyed using a three-topic, three-category survey instrument. Results indicated that, prior to beginning clinical patient care, approximately 80 percent of students felt that the course was too short and 20 percent just right. Conversely, and retrospectively, after completing their dental school training, only 35 percent felt it was too short, and 65 percent felt it was just right. Retrospectively, in terms of clinical preparedness, 55 percent felt adequately prepared and 35 percent felt well prepared to treat their patients. No significant change was noted between Part II National Board scores following the change to the reduced curricula time. The average National Board Part II scores prior to initiating the new curriculum was 86.3, and afterwards, it was 86.2. Further, for the North East Regional Board, HSDM students in the past four years demonstrated a 98 percent overall success rate with 100 percent primary pass in the operative dentistry part of the examination. These results suggest that an abbreviated preclinical training is not only possible, but may make time available for training opportunities in other areas, such as aesthetic dental procedures and new biomaterials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1162
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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