Periodontics salutes new offering

BY CASSIDY RILEY | JULY 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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Creators of the new professional-development program in the University of Iowa Department of Periodontics say the offering will bring many benefits to not only the students but also the school.

This month marked the first year of the new professional-development program for dentists in the field of periodontics in the UI College of Dentistry. Periodontics deals with the treatment of gums and gum disease.

“The purpose of the program is to open opportunities for already graduated dentists who are interested in extending their knowledge of periodontics,” said Assistant Professor Gustavo Avila Ortiz, the program’s mentor.

Avila Ortiz managed a similar curriculum, modeled after a residency program, at the University of Michigan before coming to the UI two years ago. Participants in the program will share in a lot of activities with the residency students including taking classes, doing research, and shadowing professionals in the clinic. The major difference between the residency program and the professional-development program will be the end result.  

Students who complete either the six-month or 12-month professional-development program will receive a letter certifying their completion and students from the United States will also receive continuing-education credits required by the American Dental Association.

Avila Ortiz also said residency program can be difficult to be admitted to and completion of this program could serve as a bridge that could help a student get into a residency program.

Juan Gonzalez de Buitrago Garcia is the first to participate in this program. He studied dentistry in Spain at the University of Granada, and he is in the middle of pursuing a doctorate at the university as well.

Gonzalez said what he considers to be the greatest benefit of this program is the wealth of knowledge he intends to gain in a field he is passionate about.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this opportunity of learning in a prestigious university will have a tremendously positive impact in my career,” he wrote in an email. “After having been in the department for one month and having realized the good relationship among the residents and the professors, I have to say that is even more reinforcing for me because I value a collegiate and non-oppressive learning environment.”

Satheesh Elangovan, a UI assistant professor of periodontics, is one of Gonzalez’s mentors for his research project, and he said he is excited about not only how the program will affect students but also the department.

“The dentists will get a firsthand experience in the field of periodontics,” he wrote in an email. “In return, we get different perspectives from dentists trained in different parts of the world … and I think it will also increase the visibility of the program beyond U.S.A. So, it’s a win-win situation.”

Avila Ortiz said the program did not cost the department anything to develop. Each student pays $12,000 to participate in the program.

“We designed this program to only bring positive things to the university, including revenue and experiences,” he said.

Professor Georgia Johnson, the head of the Periodontics Department, worked with Avila Ortiz in developing the program. She said she anticipates that the program will attract more students in the coming years but that she doesn’t see the program growing beyond two students per academic session.

“I think two is probably a comfortable number for us in terms of being able to provide a good experience,” she said. “We’re excited that we’re starting the program and look forward to how this unfolds over the years. I hope it’s a positive experience.”

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