The CRET Innovation Center
The Innovation Center: Design and Equipment
The Innovation Center (IC) is configured as a private practice dental office with treatment rooms, a dental laboratory, a sterilization area, reception area, records area, staff areas, and consultation areas. CRET provides the IC with equipment for 4 -6 treatment rooms. All equipment (including chairs, lights, and cabinetry, are the latest models available and are consigned to the school for 3 years. The CRET member is responsible for maintenance and training. Products and merchandise provided are restricted to those not available in the dental school’s main clinics.
Within the IC, dental services are provided to the public by fourth-year dental students under the close supervision of faculty during an 11-month calendar year. The IC is staffed by the dental school. Schedules are developed by the faculty to ensure that all fourth year students have the opportunity to treat patients in the IC. The schedule assigns a day and time and indicate the treatment procedure performed. Each student is expected to utilize each of the different specialty treatment rooms and products provided by all participating companies.
Students Learn the Business of Dentistry
When compared to the private practice offices of other health care providers, for example, physicians, the private dental office is unique. A dental office is part hospital (it provides its own x-rays), part learning center (it provides patient education), part fabrication area (the dental laboratory), part assembly area (the operatory/treatment rooms), part informatics area (appointments and record keeping), and part finance area (billing and inventory control). For a dental office to function successfully and profitably, the dentist must have the skills to: oversee the integration of all these areas; perform the necessary dental procedures; remain informed of advances in the dental field; continue to improve the office function in order to provide the best in patient care and ensure the personnel that staff each of these areas interact in a seamless fashion.
To accomplish all these tasks, the dentist must function as CEO, CFO, COO, CSO, and HR director often at the same time and while performing complex dental procedures. Unfortunately, while dental schools provide students with a thorough grounding in dental procedures and techniques in clinics where they can acquire sufficient competence to practice dentistry, “practice management” is usually provided as lectures with no hands-on experience. As a result, very often dental students graduate with a theoretical knowledge of how a dental office operates but without any experience.
The IC remedies this situation. Because the IC is designed as a fully functional private practice dental office it serves as a “laboratory” for dental students to participate with IC administration in its operation and learn to deal with issues related to all aspects of dental office operation including personnel, and equipment and product evaluation, acquisition, and finance.
Equipment and Product Evaluation
The IC introduces students and faculty to the latest and most innovative dental services, technologies, equipment, and products. This university-based interdisciplinary facility that fuses traditional clinical education with technologic education and evaluation into a seamless unit to enhance the delivery of high-quality oral health care. As a university-based facility, the CRET IC will simultaneously validate and integrate research performed in a dental office setting for the benefit of industry, clinicians, and students.
Added Value to Dental Student Education Process
The IC provides a facility where patients can be treated in several unique ways. First, because the IC is designed and outfitted as a private dental office, it can be used in conjunction with didactic courses in practice managment.
Next, the IC is equipped with the latest new and innovative equipment and products that the dental industry has to offer, dental students have the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of types of equipment and products for treating patients.
And finally, the IC will have equipment and products from several companies, many of whom will be competitors. In this way, students and faculty will have an opportunity to experience a similar piece of equipment and product from several different manufacturers. For example, each IC will have multiple treatment rooms each will be equipped by a different manufacturer.
In addition, each Center will be equipped with systems for video transmission of treatments and procedures which all students and faculty can utilize in real time or can capture for later use. The goal is to have each senior dental student complete a specified number of dental procedures in the IC using the latest in equipment and products under close supervision by qualified faculty and company representatives.
Innovative Products and Equipment and the Existing Curriculum
The dental faculty will design rotation schedules where each senior dental student spends a part of the senior year treating patients in the IC. The rotation schedule will be designed such that each senior dental student completes as many of the standard procedures (restorative dentistry, prosthetic dentistry, periodontics etc) as possible within the time frame of the rotation. The goal is to ensure the dental student rotates through as many of the operatories provided by different companies as possible.
Requirement for Pre-clinical Education and Training on Equipment and Products
A unique aspect to the IC is that any new technique, product or equipment not utilized in the existing clinical curriculum can be established at the Center and will be introduced into the pre-clinical education curriculum as well. For example, if a laser is accepted for use in the IC dental students will be expected to first demonstrate competency in a “laboratory” setting under the supervision of the faculty member and a company representative to provide assurance that the equipment is used correctly. A similar process will be followed for restorative and prosthetic products as well. Where possible these innovative products will be introduced to first, second and third year students in pre-clinical settings.
For example, the CAD/CAM machine incorporates several separate operations related to the machinery: the optical impression, the selection of a dental morphology, selection of the restorative material and the dental informatics that guide the system.
Technology Center Governance and Operations- The Advisory Committee
Policies and Procedures for Operations of the IC will be overseen by an Advisory Committee composed of 7 members: 3 from the dental industry and 4 from the dental school faculty.
Selection of Products
It must be emphasized that the IC is not a “testing” facility. Products will be selected based on their degree of innovativeness and utility. The Advisory Committee will select what it determines to be the appropriate services, technologies, equipment, and products from CRET member companies.