October 9, 2009
Student Research at LLUSD
The goal of student research at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry is to encourage students—dental, dental hygiene, graduate students—and dental school faculty to participate in research that will improve the quality of oral healthcare. Such research study encourages critical thinking skills and fosters a better understanding of the scientific literature essential to the practice of evidence-based dentistry.
Student research has been encouraged since the School of Dentistry was established at Loma Linda University in 1953. For more than 50 years, it has been an important part of the predoctoral and advanced education curriculum. Student research presentations have been a featured event at the annual School of Dentistry Alumni-Student Convention each February.
Successful completion of a research course and project is a mandatory part of the curriculum for third-year dental students and second-year dental hygiene students. They are required to successfully complete two research courses. A two-unit research design course begins the summer quarter of the third year predoctoral curriculum.
- Instruct students in basic research methodology and design;
- Prepare students to critique and assess research articles;
- Inform students about the legal and ethical concerns in research (CITI online training):
- Provide students with structure and guidelines for research project preparation;
- Help students develop and write a research protocol;
- Encourage critical thinking skills by applying scientific principles and methodology.
Students are encouraged to form groups of three to collaborate on a scientific topic of their interest. These trios may elect to do a clinical (IRB-approved) study, a laboratory study, an educational project, or they may create a PowerPoint lecture presenting current research on a dental topic.
Lectures, workshops, and faculty-led group consultations are provided students to facilitate their selection and development of a research topic into a written research proposal. Each student research group must acquire a faculty mentor to guide their research project development. By the end of the summer quarter, each student group is expected to have completed the following: 1) establish the members of their group; 2) decide on a research topic; 3) choose a mentor; 4) assign a title for the research project; 5) gather resource materials; and 6) complete a research proposal.
In 2008-2009 there were 34 groups generated from 88 third-year dental students and 15 groups generated from 40 dental hygiene students. Their varying topics included integrating a visual device with computer-generated interactive software, identifying the causes of needle deflection during the administration of local anesthesia, rubber dam contamination during root canal therapy, the development of educational materials for teaching students the techniques of oral suturing, and the development of a pamphlet for teaching pregnant women how to care for their baby’s (and their own) teeth during and immediately following pregnancy. The topics varied widely, but, most importantly, reflected the students’ domains of interest in dental research.
The laboratory component of the course follows in the subsequent (autumn) quarter. The laboratory provides scheduled time for each student group to conduct research study and compute statistical findings on the collected data. Each student group prepares a presentation of the study in the format of a table clinic that includes study purpose, introduction, methods and materials, results and conclusions. Students are also expected to develop a pamphlet that summarizes their research project. The first presentation is conducted for a panel of faculty for guidance and feedback. The formal presentation occurs during the Alumni-Student Convention as a student table clinic competition. Winners apply to compete in the Student Table Clinic Competition judged during the California Dental Association annual scientific meeting in Anaheim. Loma Linda University student research has met with excellent success at the CDA and national student research competitions. The accompanying table shows the LLUSD student results for the past six years, including state and national table clinic competition.
In summary, student research activities are emphasized in the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry curriculum to increase the ability of students entering the dental profession to understand the methods, scope, and critical importance of dental research. Students who demonstrate research interest are encouraged to become involved in more research activities. A few students with significant interest in dental research are sponsored by the School to attend the AADR National Student Research Group at IADR/AADR conferences, the Annual Dental Students’ Conference on Research at Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the Hinman Student Research Symposium in Memphis, Tennessee, to network and learn about new directions in dental research. One of the ultimate goals of the School’s student research program is to educate and train oral health professionals who will explore new areas in healthcare and contribute to the body of knowledge in dental research.
National and State Awards for Student Research
|3rd place||2* *||1|
* CDA awards include both dental and dental hygiene students.
** One from International Association for Dental Research
Table header acronyms are, left to right:
CDA = California Dental Association
CDHA = California Dental Hygiene Association
ADHA = American Dental Hygiene Association-