MALMÖ, Sweden: In the hope of better understanding the status quo of dental education within the EU, various stakeholders from Sweden, the UK and Spain, among other countries, have recently joined forces to work on an Erasmus+ project, O-Health-Edu. Together, the members aim to develop a set of online tools, including an interactive map of universities and a digital dictionary for dental terminology, that will help collect, cross-examine and present data on oral health education in Europe.
“We must have a well-educated profession to meet the needs of the future. With free movement within the EU, it is important to know how oral health professional education programmes are structured in different countries,” Dr Julia Davies, professor of oral biology at Malmö University, said in a press release.
The project was launched in 2019. Its members include the Association for Dental Education in Europe and universities in Sweden, Latvia, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the UK and France. According to information retrieved from the O-Health-Edu website, the project has three overarching objectives: to provide a diagnosis of the current state of oral health education in Europe; to enable a shared understanding and a common vision of oral health professionals’ education priorities for the future among all European stakeholders and policymakers; and to define priorities for a strategic vision and support changes for oral health professionals’ education in 2030.
The three objectives will be attained by delivering 13 intellectual outputs or project activities, among which is the development of a digital map that charts dentists’ and dental hygienists’ education. With the help of the map, interested parties will be able to browse information about study programmes related to dentistry offered in the EU, enrolment and acceptance statistics, methods and practice of teaching, and education cost, among other topics.
Additionally, Prof. Davies is responsible for the compilation of an online interactive glossary of terms related to the higher education of oral health professionals in Europe. This part of the project, known as the Articulate glossary, focuses on establishing some of the key terms that are used within the higher education and European political contexts. The dictionary will help to clarify and standardise some core terminology used in dental education in order to ensure better communication between various stakeholders.
“It is important that teachers, students and decision makers describe the same thing,” Prof. Davies noted. “Anyone who is interested in introducing a new pedagogy can look up what it means. It is a resource to increase the interaction between different universities, so we can share experiences and good practice in education,” she explained.
“Technology is constantly evolving, but it is also important to work more preventively. Oral health is linked to general health in terms of, for example, the link with cardiovascular disease. By preventing oral disease, we can improve general health. We need a more holistic approach, not least in education,” Prof. Davies concluded.