August 13, 2014

UW forges link with Thailand’s leading dental school

A new agreement between the UW School of Dentistry and Thailand’s leading dental school is expected to generate more faculty exchanges and research collaborations as it helps expand the School’s global footprint.

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Dean Joel Berg and Dean Suchit Poolthong of the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Dentistry hold a plaque commemorating their new working partnership during a signing ceremony at the UW on Aug. 8.

Dean Joel Berg visited Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok during a trip to China and Thailand in January in the first step of formalizing the agreement. A delegation led by Dr. Suchit Poolthong, Dean of Chulalongkorn University Dental Faculty, paid a reciprocal visit to the UW on Aug. 8. At that time, Dean Berg and Dean Poolthong signed a memorandum of understanding, as they did in January.

“Federal and state resources for dental education and research have been static or even shrinking for some time now,” Dean Berg said. “That’s our new reality, and that’s why it’s more important than ever for us to be creative in seeking out new partners.”

In addition to research partnerships and faculty exchanges, Dean Berg said, the schools will also share ideas about dental curriculum and the future of the dental profession.

Chulalongkorn brings impressive assets to the partnership, Dean Berg said. Thailand’s largest dental school, founded in 1941, teaches a full range of dental specialties and has a robust research program, including a requirement that all students perform research. It has a six-year predoctoral program with graduate specialty certification programs spanning one to five years. The school places strong emphasis on public health, conducting large-scale clinical outreaches that include a mobile special-needs pediatric clinic.

Tuition and fees are subsidized by the Thai government, with students required to perform government service for three years after graduation unless they repay their financial obligation. Tuition costs a total of $30,000 for the six-year DDS program, which admits 140 students each year.

During his August visit, Dean Poolthong gave a brief presentation on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its new ventures that are reshaping regional dental education.

The new ventures include efforts to standardize and synchronize dental education across Southeast Asia, he said, with educational components including general and subject-specific competencies and a regional credit-transfer system.

The initiatives’ goals are for patients to receive a more consistent standard of oral health care around the region, employing evidence-based dentistry that reflects local populations and their health needs while acknowledging member states’ diversity. ASEAN also seeks to facilitate a freer flow of dental professionals across the region, Dean Poolthong said.