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Progress Notes

Dr. Bob Hinton

Dr. Bob Hinton, Regents Professor in biomedical sciences


Photo by Steven Doll

Bringing evidence-based dentistry to students

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. Bob Hinton, Regents Professor and the R25 grant's contract principal investigator, on how faculty have used the $633,343 grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to instill in students the critical thinking and inquiry skills they’ll need to responsibly practice dentistry or further their knowledge through an advanced education program.

BDRO: Dr. Hinton, the NIH Oral Health Research Education grant, R25, is now in its fourth and final year of funding at the college. Do you think the school has made progress on the grant’s ultimate goal, which is for students to learn how to incorporate evidence and clinical research into patient-related decision making?  

Hinton: Yes, I feel that we have made considerable strides. The students who are now seniors have received a thorough grounding in evidence-based dentistry in a didactic course in their first year, coupled with small group sessions, which serve as “labs” to practice their newly-learned skills. These small group sessions have proven popular with the students and incorporate increasingly sophisticated analytical challenges as the student moves through the curriculum: relatively simple, mostly epidemiological research articles in the D1 year; research articles tied to their preclinical courses in the D2 year; and student-initiated searches for research evidence bearing on a clinical dilemma in the D3 year. We are now addressing how to integrate this training into the D4 year, so that our graduates will carry this skill into their practices.  

BDRO: How does the grant touch students and make them grasp the concept of evidence-based dentistry? 

Hinton: One way is our effort to make EBD a continuing feature through all four years of the dental curriculum — to in fact make EBD part of the culture of the college. That goal is strengthened by our clinical faculty demonstrating how EBD can be a useful tool in clinical decision-making during the D3-D4 years. Since many of our faculty members were trained before EBD became a part of dentistry, we developed a short course in the essentials of EBD to equip faculty with the tools needed to ‘model’ this skill for our students. This ‘in house’ continuing education has been offered for three summers and attended by a total of 25 to 30 clinical faculty mostly drawn from restorative sciences and general dentistry.