Dental professionals for a new century: Transforming dentistry through interprofessional education and collaborative practice


In recent years, the global healthcare sector in higher education is geared towards the strengthening of interprofessional education and collaborative practice. The 59th World Health Assembly identified the presence of health worker crisis and global shortage of approximately 4.3 million health professionals, raising the need for several solutions to resolve the challenges of the population. “Innovative approaches to teaching” in both advanced and developing countries was announced by WHO as one of the approaches. In 2010, the WHO shared its “framework for action” report furnishing policy-makers, health leaders and professional bodies with methods on how to implement interprofessional education and collaborative practice within their local contexts. The FDI World Dental Federation, as it move towards Vision 2020, has also placed emphasis on the significance of interprofessional education and collaborative practice for sustaining optimal oral health and the need for a dentist to have a leadership role in all facets of oral health.

Interprofessional education happens when two or more health professions learn about, from, and with each other to establish effective partnership. The instruments to attain interprofessional education require both educator and curricular efforts. Educators need a common vision and comprehensive grasp of the benefits of interprofessional education. Local champions will have to become apparent, who have the capability to carry out cross-disciplinary collaborative work, determining barriers to advance, and capacity to effectively move towards the institutional direction towards interprofessional education. One main factor is to make certain the early experiences of both staff and students (towards interprofessional education) remain positive, which  will then strengthen future interest and development in this area. Even though logistical challenges toward a shared curriculum remain a key challenge, it is debated that creating flexible scheduling and making attendance mandatory are fundamental as curricular efforts towards interprofessional education. Well-constructed learning outcomes based on the growing health essentials and local contexts assisted by principles of adulting learning (such as problem-based learning) and real-world experiences are essential to promote interprofessional education.

The primary goal of interprofessional education is to assemble a workforce that can in the “real-world” work more effectively to fulfill the population’s necessity through collective manner. To attain collaborative practice, sufficient institutional support frameworks and a shift in the working culture and environment are fundamental. Governance models across the institution (educational facilities, hospitals, clinics, and care centers) will need in incorporate collaborative practices as key to the service provision and establish deliberate protocols and synergised operating procedures, so participating staff across various health professions are both abreast of and up to date. In addition, change in workplace culture is critical with shared medium for communication, decisional and conflict resolution. Several environmental channels such as shifts in the building architecture and new facilities that help to gather health professionals can possibly promote collaborative practices.

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Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – Dentistry under the theme of “Changing Paradigm in Dental Education for Future Excellence” from 4-6 April 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.