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Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine Unveils State-Of-The-Art Simulation Clinic 

PITTSBURGH, November 22, 2002 — When first-year students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine are introduced to their first patient they won’t have to worry about the patient being scared of the dentist – the patient is a mannequin. These mannequins, or patient simulators, along with two rooms full of state-of-the-art computer and audio-visual technology, are part of the school’s new $2.6 million Simulation Clinic.

One of only a handful of dental schools nationwide to use this cutting-edge technology and teaching method, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine boasts the most up-to-date model.

“We have definitely brought dental education into the future,” said R. Donald Hoffman, D.M.D., Ph.D., associate dean for clinical education at the School of Dental Medicine. “Not just through technology, but by vertically integrating the teaching program, our students can now take what they have learned during their first two years in the Simulation Clinic and seamlessly transfer it to patient care activities in the Comprehensive Care Program during their third and fourth years.”

“The Simulation Clinic gives our students a patient-care experience – without the patients,” said Daniel P. Ratkus, D.M.D., clinical instructor in the department of restorative dental sciences and director of the Simulation Clinic. “From their first year, our students will receive clinical experience, acting as if their simulators are really human patients. The students must follow standard infection control and charting procedures, just like they do in the clinic.”

The clinic comprises two simulation labs with 80 total workstations, each equipped with a patient simulator as well as standard dental instruments. The simulator has a removable jaw that replicates life-like jaw movements and can be positioned like a patient reclining in a dental chair. From flat screen monitors placed at each station, students are able to view the professor, who teaches from an elevated platform at the front of the room. A movable camera offers students close-up views of the instructor performing a procedure on his or her own simulator. The teaching station also has the capabilities to broadcast slides, radiographs, video and/or transparencies on the monitors, as well as tape classroom activities using top-of-the-line equipment including VCRs and DVD players.

KaVo, a company in Lake Zurich, Ill., designed the patient simulators and laboratory equipment. ProCom, located in Oakland, maintains the computer systems.

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