This is the first in a series of interviews highlighting THE NEXTDDS Academic Advisory Board members and their views on dental education today. From their choices in digital tools in the classroom to what advice they would give current dental students, these academicians will weigh in on their experiences.
John Christensen, DDS, MS, MS
Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
What is the most rewarding aspect of your dental specialty?
Working with a varied population daily (children and adolescents) who make every appointment different. You never know what is coming next.
What digital or online tools do you use in the classroom or clinical setting?
Digital photos, x-rays, models for orthodontic diagnosis. I use Dolphin software to help work up orthodontic cases. I use Pubmed, Google scholar alerts for information and education. Dentaltraumaguide.org is the best resource for trauma available.
How often do you assign students material that requires online research?
Often, it is a way of getting journal articles without the journal.
What advice can you give current dental students nearing graduation who are interested in your specialty?
Visit dentists in the specialty you are considering and observe for more than an afternoon. Do they seem happy? Challenged? Frustrated? That tells you a lot about the specialty.
Does this generation of students present any unique challenges to educators?
Yes, the amount of information available to students is almost overwhelming. Couple that with all the information coming from news, social media, etc. and I think the current generation has a difficult time finding time to focus on the material at hand. Multitasking is not the answer.
What do you find to be the most difficult dental concept to teach?
Critical thinking to apply different concepts to a single problem. Students often know A, know B, and know C. What they have trouble with is combining A, B, and C to make D which is the best solution to the problem.
What digital adjunct materials do you find most useful for students, and for what lessons do you use them?
Dentaltraumaguide.org for resource. Dolphin Imaging to see what treatment might look like.
Why did you choose your specialty?
Children create another dimension to treatment and that is time. They change and one needs to understand growth and development to incorporate the changes into the treatment solutions.
What do you wish you had known about the dental industry as a whole when you were a student?
My father was a dentist so I knew most of what was happening. I wish I knew more about where we are going. Will dentistry and dentists just become technicians providing services or will we continue to be part of the health team?