UW School of Dentistry


What is it like to be a RIDE student?

  • RIDE students receive their first year of dental education in Spokane at Eastern Washington University (EWU).
  • RIDE students generally work in small groups with more direct faculty interaction.
  • RIDE students interact closely with medical and dental hygiene students, and health professionals while on community rotations.
  • RIDE students participate in some classes via distance learning using videoconferencing and learning management systems such as Moodle/LearningWare and Blackboard. Other multimedia technologies used are streaming video and course recording.
  • RIDE students spend more time on external rotations in community health center dental clinics.
  • RIDE students are exposed to professional and lifestyle opportunities in smaller, rural communities.

Where do RIDE students attend their first year of dental school?

Students go to the EWU Riverpoint campus located in downtown Spokane adjacent to the Spokane River (Click here to see a map). The Health Sciences Building, which houses the Department of Dental Hygiene, and the Academic Services Buildings are the loci of most of the teaching activities for RIDE students (Click here to view photos). The campus has state of the art facilities and is in a great location.

What about the second, third, and fourth years of dental school?

All students complete their second and third years together at the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) in Seattle. Fourth year RIDE students spend approximately half the year in Seattle and the other half participating in extended rotations at affiliated community health center dental clinics.

Are there differences between the first year RIDE curriculum and what students are taught in Seattle?

Although there may be variations in the order of subjects and methods utilized, first year RIDE and Seattle based courses are equivalent. Since RIDE students take some courses with hygiene students and medical students, they likely receive more academic content overall when compared with their Seattle colleagues. In addition, all RIDE students participate in community-based rotations after their first year and extended rotations in their fourth year.

Who will be teaching in Spokane?

All faculty teaching in the RIDE program are affiliate faculty of the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Their primary appointments are with Eastern Washington University or Washington State University. Click here to see EWU faculty bios.

Is the RIDE program easier or harder?

Probably neither, just different. The RIDE program has an emphasis on interdisciplinary, small-group learning and community experiences when compared with the traditional curriculum at the UWSOD.

Are there any disadvantages to being in the RIDE program?

Geographic separation from the larger dental school class during the first year and for part of the fourth year of dental school might be considered a disadvantage to some. However, the eight RIDE students (per cohort) have the benefit of a small-group learning environment and participate in interdisciplinary groups with dental hygiene and medical students. Another perceived disadvantage might be the need to re-locate to Seattle after the first year in Spokane.

How are courses taught using distance learning technology?

Depending on structure and content, many courses are delivered using distance learning modalities. To ensure equivalency of education, all UWSOD first year courses are taught in partnership with EWU RIDE faculty. Common syllabi, tests, and exam questions are coordinated between the course directors.

When first year UWSOD Seattle and RIDE schedules align, didactic courses are generally simulcast using videoconferencing technology and the UW and EWU faculty jointly teach the class. When schedules are not aligned, Seattle courses are recorded and posted to course websites where RIDE students can access the materials at their convenience. In this instance, EWU faculty are there to lecture, answer questions, and offer review sessions.

During the fourth year while on extended rotations at community health center dental clinics, RIDE students are connected to their didactic courses via videoconferencing using the distance learning network at the sites.

How will RIDE students work with underserved patients during their first and fourth years?

After their first year, RIDE students will participate in a 4-week clinical rotation at a community health center dental clinic serving rural or underserved patients. They will also have opportunities to participate in shorter rotations after their second year (2-4 weeks). RIDE students will return to rural community health centers for 4-6 months of clinical experience during their fourth year.

Where will I do my community rotations?

Students will rotate through selected community health center (CHC) sites in Eastern Washington. All CHC’s are affiliated with the UWSOD, and all site preceptors are affiliate faculty.