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Progress Notes

Drs. Bob Hutchins and Beverly York Dr. Bob Hutchins, associate professor in biomedical sciences, and Dr. Beverly York, assistant professor in restorative sciences

All you need to know about the QEP: Q&A Session with York and Hutchins

In this Q-and-A session, and in each issue of the Baylor Dental Record Online to follow, we plan to take a closer look at some pressing topics within the dental profession and just what they mean to Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry. From TAMHSC-BCD initiatives to hot-button questions, we consult the college’s own subject matter experts to get their input.


This issue includes the perspectives of Dr. Beverly York, assistant professor in restorative sciences, and Dr. Bob Hutchins, associate professor in biomedical sciences, on the teaching of evidence-based decision making at the college, specifically as it relates to a very pertinent system-wide project: the Quality Enhancement Plan.


BDRO: Dr. York, as primary director of the QEP, and Dr. Hutchins, as co-author of the plan, with accreditation within the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools looming on the horizon, you understand firsthand how implementing critical thinking skills and scientific reasoning impacts the college’s standing within the academic community. Just how does the focus of the evolving QEP impact evidence-based dentistry at TAMHSC-BCD?

York: The concept of quality enhancement is a vital and prudent requisite that the SACS Commission has established. The purpose of the proposal that Dr. Hutchins and I authored is to train our pre-doctoral dental students to think across the barriers of basic content courses yielding better skills in understanding and managing complex patient problems. 

This begins with expanding students’ knowledge about methodologies used in the realm of scientific research and then applying those basic skills to clinical patient care. It’s exciting to be part of a dental school that increasingly excels in the mission of teaching scholarship of discovery by research and advancing knowledge for excellence in health care. BCD provides an outstanding collaborative environment to integrate the biomedical sciences with clinical practice to provide the best education to our students and treatment to help our patients.

Hutchins: That’s a great question, as the QEP continues to evolve for all TAMHSC components. The TAMHSC QEP will be known as the “CARE” program, which stands for critical appraisal of relevant evidence. Initially, I don't think Baylor College of Dentistry will see much change in the way we are currently teaching EBD. However, as more components come online with their own programs, I believe that the TAMHSC faculty expertise and training will be shared, various HSC programs will be available to all of our students and, of course, ultimately impact how our students will be able to use these tools as they deliver treatment to their patients.

BDRO: So is it safe to say critical thinking and scientific reasoning are synonymous with evidence-based dentistry?

York: I wouldn’t say the terms are synonymous. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say we are providing students with the skills to be self-directed learners by teaching them the process of critically assessing the relevant evidence. 

Hutchins: Critical thinking actually includes a wide range of skills, and evidence-based decision making — as it applies to evidence-based dentistry, medicine or practice — is just one of those skills. The intent is to develop specific decision-making skills for the health professional as it applies to patient treatment.