Orthodontic education is often questioned when it is obtained from unfamiliar institutions. The intent of this book is to answer the questions related to this uncertainty; moreover, it gives the reader the insight to judge more objectively the various international programs listed. It is a tremendous resource with valuable information about the academic, research, and clinical elements of postgraduate orthodontic programs worldwide. It is not a textbook describing clinical procedures or techniques; however, it refers to international, regional, and national guidelines pertaining to the recognition and accreditation criteria of health authorities, professional organizations, and scientific societies involved in orthodontic education or specialty recognition.
The foreword by a well-known academic, Dr Birte Melsen of Aarhus University in Denmark, sets the stage for this guide to a global picture of orthodontic education. Dr Melsen attracts the interest of the reader by her reflections on the evolution of graduate education, the introduction of schools of orthodontics more than a century ago, and the strong guidelines of specialty education of the present accreditation bodies. The so-called “appliance driven” philosophy of the past is criticized, and encouragement is directed to academicians, clinicians, and researchers to pursue an evidence-based education leading to excellent patient care. The concern of an industry-driven education vs a research-based specialty is emphasized.
The book comprises 20 chapters, each by educators in the field. Throughout these chapters, essential material is included and answers are provided to such questions as to what ingredients are necessary to ensure an excellent orthodontic education.
The first 2 chapters outline the history of postgraduate and graduate orthodontic education and various attempts to establish a standardized curriculum. One learns that orthodontic teaching in a formal college environment goes back to 1857. The well-known Angle era followed, and the preceptorship education from 1961 to 1970 is explained. The development of orthodontics as a specialty came with strong-minded people, resulting in many turf wars. Fortunately, the historical insight eventually led to the establishment of a contemporary orthodontic graduate program under an umbrella of guidance by such entities as CODA in the United States to the Erasmus Program in Europe. Both organizations provide leadership on quality and consistency in education. Contemporary education did not evolve without accompanying challenges, and these are documented throughout the text.
No definition of orthodontic education is complete without the comparison of undergraduate vs postgraduate and graduate orthodontic teaching. The third chapter focuses on the undergraduate orthodontic curriculum—why undergraduate orthodontics teaching is essential—and addresses the shortage of specialists in some regions.
Chapters 4 through 12 are of particular interest because they provide an overview of postgraduate education throughout the world. These chapters include specialty education in Europe, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Latin America, East and Southeast Asia with a focus on China, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), Middle East, and Africa, and culminate with a reflection of education in the Indian Subcontinent in chapter 12. The well-versed reader will quickly recognize numerous similarities, but also note differences among the programs. Unfortunately, not all programs are described in the same detail; however, this is not a distraction to the magnitude of information provided.
Chapters 13, 14, and 15 underline the value of board certification around the world. The reader becomes familiar in chapter 13 with the American Board of Orthodontics with such goals as personal growth for the orthodontist, increased self-confidence, the value of the learning experience of becoming board certified, and better clinical care to patients—all in all, an immeasurable asset. One becomes aware of the activities of the General Dental Council in the United Kingdom in chapter 14, a council overseeing all levels of dental education with the Royal Colleges supervising examinations at all specialty levels. Chapter 15 covers international guidelines, referring to the Erasmus Project and the World Federation of Orthodontics. The Erasmus Project has as a general guideline the recommendation of a standardized 3-year postgraduate orthodontic program for all European institutions and the World Federation of Orthodontics providing guidelines for a future universal curriculum. The book’s appendix provides an update in detail of the Erasmus Project and World Federation of Orthodontists guidelines.
Modern education without technological inclusiveness is not complete. Chapter 16 describes new technologies in light of the increasing popularity of interactive modules and e-learning. Digital resources increase daily, and this opens a new world of sharing orthodontic knowledge globally and also enhances collaboration opportunities among educators. The electronic media provide the traditional textbooks in a digital format that is in vogue with the educational experiences sought by the younger generation. This chapter concludes with references to national and international collaborations through online learning development.
Needless to say, orthodontic education is not complete at graduation. Orthodontic specialists must continue efforts of personal and professional development to ensure that their education is continually updated. Orthodontic marketing has exploded on a large scale, and the enormous volumes of information and new appliances necessitate that clinicians exercise critical scrutinization to validate all for clinical practice and patient care. It is now more important than ever to help nurture the skills required to stay up to date with the latest product development and research, review published articles with the necessary insight, and practice evidence-based rather than market-driven orthodontics.
Chapter 17 focuses on continuing professional education to ensure that one is able to question claims made by manufacturers and think critically, considering the explosion of course material offered today. The author of this chapter emphasizes the importance of a well-educated modern orthodontist who graduated from a well-structured orthodontic program managed by dedicated, qualified, and ambitious academicians who will not only teach, but also serve as role models for the future orthodontists.
The development of any discipline depends on well-planned scientific research. Dissemination of the data in appropriate journals ensures that all students of orthodontics receive usable information. In chapters 18 and 19, the authors discuss the roles of scientific journals and the importance of publication of articles by academicians, clinicians, and researchers. It is made clear that it is important to value the importance of research and to conduct research in an orthodontic program to ensure the development of an ability to answer clinical and practical questions related to the practice of orthodontics.
Chapter 20, the final chapter, is devoted to the evolution of assessment criteria and methods needed to meet future challenges. It reflects briefly on the faculty shortages expected in orthodontic programs, facilities required to ensure proper education of orthodontists, and incorporating a self-assessment protocol for programs to facilitate accreditation.
Overall, this book will be an important resource for dentists who are interested in postgraduate orthodontic programs, for orthodontic educators around the world, and for clinicians who simply want to stay abreast of trends in specialty education. It can also serve as a guide for planning and amending orthodontic curricula.
Drs Theodore Eliades and Athanasios Athanasiou, both experienced educators, have compiled a global series of articles on orthodontic postgraduate education with input from an excellent group of authors. In so doing, they have underlined the content of international orthodontic programs, covered the global educational environment in orthodontics, and emphasized the need for global standardization and accreditation of the orthodontic specialty.