The observership at Ohio State University's College of Dentistry

Date: December 1, 2010

School of Dentistry, College of Medicine, Student, Ting-Yum Cheng
Editor, General Education Center, Chiara Benham

The observership at Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry (OSU) was a rewarding experience. I learned a lot during the three full weeks I spent at the OSU dental clinic. During the summer quarter, I had the opportunity to observe both third and fourth year dental students treating their patients in the comprehensive Care Clinics. I also had the opportunity to visit the Graduate Periodontology and the implant clinic. In addition, I was able to view some of the great professors’ dental related research laboratories. Besides all of the academic benefits, I also enjoyed entertainment both in and off the school campus. The city of Columbus is a great place to learn from and to live in.

When I was observing the third year dental students treating their patients, I was mostly amazed by their professionalism, confidence and posture. Although it may have been the student’s first time treating a patient for thespecific case, they were able to handle the whole situation and deal with the patient with such composure. In one specific case that I encountered, a third year dental student was scaling and root planning on her first patient, who was also her father . She did two quadrants in the morning appointment and did the other two quadrants in the afternoon. Althougth it may seem like a simple process, it takes a long time. Every single procedure needs to be done very thoroughly. Every process must be checked by the teaching professor before the dental student can proceed to the next step. I believe that this kind of learning is critical to build up a good foundation for the student. A solid technical skill is going to help the student go an extra yard.

During my visit, I really saw what it meant to have comprehensive dental care treatment. Every patient that came into the clinic had to be screened and then have a consultation appointment before anything was done. The dental students discussed the treatment plan with their patient; doing the best they could to meet the patient’s needs. Again, the professor had to approve of the final treatment plan before any procedure could be preformed. It is new and interesting to evaluate a patient’s oral facial health is part of the mandatory procedure. The students had a list of requirements they needed to check for. This list included checking the skin, lip, tongue, head and neck. I truly believe that a dentist’s responsibility is not merely to examine the teeth, but to also thoroughly examination all parts above the neck. Taking  good care of patient’s oral and facial health is as important as taking care of their teeth.

Observing the Graduate Periodontology Clinic was just as rewarding. I had many opportunities to see surgery preformed. At first I did not understand what the dentists were doing or what their reasons for doing so were. However, all the dentists were very friendly and willing to explain the procedure to me. By the end of first week, I was quite familiar with all the procedures in the graduate periodontology clinic. The best thing about visiting the graduate periodontology clinic was seeing all the surgical procedures that I wouldn’t of had the chance to observe at CMU. It also gave me an overview of what periodontology was about and ll of the different fields that periodontologist covers. Going into graduate periodontology might be a nice option for me after graduation.

The implant clinic is also a very nice learning atmosphere. Again, all of the dentists were really nice and explained every single procedure to me. I had the opportunity to visit the radiography room and the dark room. Even more exciting, I had the chance to take an x-ray. Everything I learned from textbooks made more sense when I actually had the chance to perform it on patients. I am very thankful for this great experience.

There were a total of three different professors’ laboratories that I visited. Dr. John Walters was mostly interested in inflammation, signaling mechanisms involved in activation of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and their association with aggressive periodontitis, and factors that influence the distribution of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents in periodontal tissues. At Dr. Purnima Kumar’s laboratory, I had the chance to be one of the subjects in the new research that a graduate student in her laboratory was doing. The goal of the research was to see whether the bacteria in the gingival fluid differ among different ethnic groups. The reward for being the subject was a ten-dollar gift card. The third laboratory that I visited was at Dr. Do-Gyoon Kim’s. Dr. Kim was mostly interested in mechanobiology of osteoporosis, viscoelastic mechanics of bone, mechanics of orthodontic tooth movement, degenerative joint disease, tissue-biomaterial interactions, bone tissue engineering, and computational biomechanics. At his laboratory, I had the chance to observe a student dissecting a pig’s head. That was a pretty unique experience.

Another memorable experience was whenDr. Claman gave us lectures on scaling and root planning. Although I only listened to a one lecture for three hours, I have to admit, Dr. Claman was one of the best professors that I have ever encountered. He taught very clearly. Dr. Claman also gave a demonstration of scaling and root planning on typodont. After his demonstration, every one of us had to chance to practice what we just learned. I was very anxious because hadn’t had many lectures on periodontology at school, however it was a very good experience.

During the first week of my observership I was very tired because we had to stand from eight thirty in the morning to four thirty in the afternoon. During the weekends we also had a lot of fun. We toured downtown Columbus and shopped at the Cincinnati Premium Outlet. The first weekend at OSU, we were invited to join the periodontoly department’s welcoming picnic for their first year residents. Everyone brought homemade food to the picnic. The food was great and the weather was great too. During our last week, it was the OSU medical center staff appreciation week. Therefore, we were able to enjoy free food during lunch time.

My three weeks at OSU flew by. I met so many new people and learned so many valuable lessons. Special thanks to Dr. Hua-Hong Chien who made this OSU experience possible. Without his arrangement, none of this would have been possible. He not only is a great professor but also a great host. I want to thank him for inviting us to his home for dinner and for driving us around. Special thanks also to Dr. Tu. Without her our life at OSU would not have been the same. She took very good care of all of us during the time away from our home. Last but not least, thanks to everyone who went to OSU with me. It has been a great and fun trip. Because of this special opportunity to visit OSU, my life is not going to be the same. Summer of 2010 is forever going to be remembered.


Picture with the research assistant,  Anand (left)
Picture with the research assistant,  Patrick (middle)
Picture with the staff in the Department of Periodontics