Year 3 — Principal Clinical Experience

The interdisciplinary courses in the Principal Clinical Experience retain the problem-based and tutorial format, providing students continuity in the style of teaching and learning. The true value of the didactic examination of patient cases in tutorial in Years 1 and 2 is realized as the evaluation and treatment of real patients begins. A longitudinal course called Occlusion, Malocclusion, and Treatment forms the didactic base of the clinical courses, which include Introduction to the Dental Patient, Diagnosis, Treatment Planning and Prevention, Treatment of Active Disease, and Final Restorative Treatment, as well as modules on the Treatment of the Child and Adolescent, Advanced Surgical Treatment, and the Advanced Dentistry Module. The progression of these courses follows realistic patient treatment methodology.

Patient-Doctor III, now centered at HSDM, addresses issues specific to dental patient care and management. The valuable patient skills acquired and honed in Patient-Doctor I and II permit a confident and positive transition to patient interaction in the clinical setting. Case presentation to faculty and colleagues is a requirement in this year. A course called Dental Health Care Delivery and Ethics includes topics on dental health care delivery, ethics, and practice management.

Preclinical and Clinical Skills/Comprehensive Care

Small class size and significant faculty interaction facilitate the development of preclinical and clinical skills. Competence is emphasized in mastering skills and the delivery of comprehensive patient care. As students achieve this competence at the preclinical level, they are permitted to commence patient care, treating simple and then more complex patient cases as subsequent skills are acquired. The union of the science learned in the first two years and skills learned in Patient-Doctor with preclinical and clinical competency creates a comprehensive experience for the patient.

As students transition to clinical training, the academic society experience evolves. With eight to nine society classmates, students learn clinical skills in the laboratory, share tutorials, and form a small-group practice when treating patients in the comprehensive care Teaching Practice at the Harvard Dental Center. The role of the senior tutor broadens from adviser to primary clinical mentor and guide. Senior tutors serve as head of the small-group practice, review treatment planning, and monitor the completion of requirements on an ongoing basis.