The new Bachelor of Dental Surgery

A 3D grid making a tooth wearing a graduation cap.

RCSI’s new Bachelor of Dental Surgery is Ireland’s first community-based dentistry program, emphasizing hands-on patient experience from year one and training in diverse healthcare settings.

The new Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences will be the first community-based undergraduate dentistry programme in Ireland. This approach reflects a major international trend in dentistry and other healthcare professions with clinical training shifting from traditional hospitals to community settings.

Experience in the community

is particularly relevant in dentistry since most graduates will work in primary care, much like most people reading this article. By rooting their education in the community and in broader healthcare facilities, our programme will give RCSI-educated dentists the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the needs of different groups in the population and to learn how to engage with the healthcare professionals they will work with in the future.

The five-year full-time programme, which will have its first intake of students in 2025, will be underpinned by a curriculum built on the award-winning Peninsula Dental School programme at the University of Plymouth.

It uses a blend of teaching and learning methods, combining clinical skills training with the acquisition of knowledge, skills and professional attributes.

The programme has been specifically designed for students to experience authentic and contextual learning. Our students will experience contact with patients from their first year, giving them the chance to develop their clinical and communication skills at the earliest opportunities.

The first two years will lay down the scientific and technical foundations upon which the later more clinically intensive years of the course are built. Across Years 2 to 5, students will gain extensive experience of a wide range of oral and general dental conditions, with continued reference to the scientific base underpinning dental practice.

The later years of the programme will support students to develop an understanding of the patient journey through primary, secondary and specialist dental care. Year 5 will provide a thorough grounding for contemporary practice by ensuring students gain the skills they will need to have as a General Dentist immediately after their graduation.

Small group teaching will be a key feature of our students’ experience. They will also attend plenaries, practical sessions and workshops.

The RCSI Simulated Dental Learning Environment, located in Sandyford, will enable students to develop and consolidate their clinical skills before treating patients safely. It will be equipped with an extensive range of models, equipment and state-of-the-art patient simulators, providing a protected environment where skills can be built. It will also host a community dental clinic or facility. A further dental education facility is planned for Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown where RCSI’s graduate entry medicine students are based.

The programme is designed to facilitate students to realise their potential as a healthcare professional. We pride ourselves on producing graduates who are knowledgeable in the science of their discipline and highly skilled well-rounded practitioners. Our students will have access to a range of career and personal supports, aimed at helping them to build the resilience and resolve to succeed in their studies and to thrive personally and professionally as they advance in their careers. They will be encouraged to get involved in any of our 85 student societies and sports clubs and enjoy a vibrant student life.

The RCSI-educated dentists that will emerge from 2030 onwards will join our global alumni network of more than 30,000 healthcare professionals, becoming healthcare leaders who improve the oral and general health of the communities where they practice.

Tell us your thoughts

We want to hear from practising dentists, dental nurses and academic dentists who have perspectives on how this programme should be rolled out, or are interested in being part of a new era in dental education in Ireland. Email to find out more.

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Published: 8 July, 2024 at 08:03
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