July 13, 2017

School is 3rd in world in research ranking

The University of Washington School of Dentistry is rated third in the world and the United States in the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which is heavily weighted toward research performance and reputation.

Jon An in the lab

Dr. Jonathan An, an award-winning researcher who holds a DDS from the School of Dentistry and is now pursuing a PhD in oral biology, works in his laboratory.

In the rankings, compiled by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, the school trails only the dental schools of the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina, with Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles rounding out the top five. The annual rankings were originated by  Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003.

The ARWU evaluation comes on the heels of the school’s No. 5 U.S. ranking and No. 14 world ranking in this year’s Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. While the QS rankings also look closely at research, they are a broader assessment than ARWU.

QS placed the University of Hong Kong dental school first in the world, while the University of Michigan was first in the United States and No. 2 in the world. The other U.S. dental schools that QS ranked in the world’s top 15 were Harvard University, New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in that order.

QS, a prominent British educational organization, assigned ranking scores based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research citations per paper, plus an index measuring the productivity and impact of researchers’ published work. Survey participants also identified up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they considered excellent.

During the last few years, the UW School of Dentistry has phased in a new curriculum that incorporates changes in dental science and technology, new modes of dental practice, biomedical advances and more. In 2015, the school launched a series of third-year clinical “clerkship” rotations that give students a more intensive exposure to the core skills of general dentistry and significantly more repetitions of dental procedures.

In 2016, the school launched its Fourth-Year General Practice Clinic, which seeks to duplicate the experience of private practice as closely as possible. Fourth-year students also travel around Washington for five-week community clinic rotations that help improve their proficiency.

As a result of the curricular changes, the school has been singled out as a national leader in curriculum innovation for the last two years by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). This year, the school also received the William J. Gies Award for Vision by an Academic Dental Institution, ADEA’s  highest recognition.

The award was bestowed for the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program, which is designed to channel dental graduates to Washington’s rural and underserved areas. Students spend their first year at the RIDE facility on Eastern Washington University’s Spokane campus, return to Seattle for their second and third year, then serve extended community clinical rotations in their fourth year. Since the program began in 2008, about 70 percent of its graduates have gone on to practice in those rural and underserved areas.