In the simulation suite, which has 10 virtual reality headsets and backpacks available for checkout, the students explore digital environments that are on the leading edge of education for future dentists.
In Chase Lewis’ first semester at the CU School of Dental Medicine, he dug deep into human anatomy on his school-provided iPad. He used a state-of-the-art dental trainer that simulates drilling on an actual tooth. He even explored new worlds, including a land of dinosaurs and the surface of Mars, in the new Immersive Learning Suite.
“With all the opportunities we’ve been given, students can go in any direction,” said Lewis, who already holds a master’s degree in modern human anatomy. “As a first-year dental student, to get access to those three pieces of technology, was awesome. All of the investment here is future ready. It’s great for everything we need” to become dentists.
Indeed, the CU School of Dental Medicine is pioneering a multi-modal, digital approach to learning. It is one of only a handful of dental schools nationwide with Simodont dental trainers, which provide high-fidelity simulation and training. Previously, dental students first picked up hand pieces during pre-clinical lab, typically a second-semester class. Now, with the Simodont, they are assigned first-semester psycho-motor exercises with hand pieces on the VR trainer.
“It puts them farther ahead quicker than in the past,” said Michael Henry, DDS, PhD, the school’s associate dean for academic affairs. “Dentistry is a visual art; it’s based on three-dimensional relationships. So, utilization of VR technology really allows us to take advantage of that.”