Prospective Students » Dental Medicine » Clinical Experiences

Clinical Experiences

Hallmarks of your clinical curriculum at WesternU include:

  • Early direct patient care integrated with the acquisition of foundational knowledge and clinical skills in the first two years.Dental student practicing in the simulation lab
  • Early service learning opportunities in a variety of community-based locations in the first two years, emphasizing how to meet the needs of the community through assessment, education, and preventive programs.
  • Preclinical simulation that allows you to develop foundational clinical skills through a multidisciplinary approach across all traditional dental disciplines.
  • Focusing on oral-systemic connections by integrating dental students into the human systems courses in the first two years, advanced case-based seminars and inter-professional clinical rotations in the last two years.
  • Unique inter-professional curriculum featuring case-based learning with small groups of students from several other WesternU health science programs, so you will learn how to work together for patient’s best interest.
  • Patient-centered WesternU dental clinic where as a student “associate” you work with faculty mentors to best meet the needs of patients by emphasizing low student-to-faculty ratios, short appointments, and increased opportunities for 4-handed dentistry in a new clinic with state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Extensive Community-based clinical education in a variety of locations in southern California and the region, where you will provide oral health care for diverse populations using a variety of delivery models.

Structure of the clinical curriculum (including approximate time frames):

  • D1 Fall/Spring/Summer Terms (48 weeks) – Students are integrated into two of the medical core curriculum courses for basic science and then transition to the CDM taught human systems courses, typically 24 hours each week. Two to four afternoons per week are focused on clinical sciences, including foundational dental clinical knowledge, and dental clinical skills acquisition in a simulated setting. Students participate in community service learning in the formal curriculum, as well as off-hours through student clubs and organizations.
  • D2 Fall/ Spring/ Summer Terms (48 weeks) – Students continue with the human systems, primarily taking place in morning sessions. Afternoons will continue to be focused on clinical sciences in simulated and direct patient care settings, with increased participation in community service learning. In the D2 Summer Term, the students have their first direct patient care experiences in the Dental Center. Students will spend 32 hours/week in simulated and direct patient care activities focusing on the hard and soft tissue surgical skills of the dentist, along with clinical sciences didactic sessions in the summer session. The students will take the written National Board Dental Exam Part I prior to the D3 Fall Term.
  • D3 and D4 Years (86 weeks) – Continuing in the D3 Fall term, students will spend approximately 32 hours/week in direct patient care, both on campus at the Dental Center and in the Community-Based Clinic Network. Each student will participate in community-based clinical care rotations of 7 weeks duration. During the D3 and D4 year, students will also participate in advanced integrated clinical seminars and pursue clinical research opportunities. The students will take the written National Board Dental Exam Part II during the D4 Fall Term.