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Letters: Today's grads vs. yesterday's

May 16, 2016 I suppose it was not surprising to read Dr. T. Alan Peterson's lament regarding clinical skills of recent dental schools graduates, versus those of "our generation," (Letters, April 4 ADA News). Upon perusing his website and noticing that he does his own gold castings. I appreciate his perspective, from my own almost 45 years in general practice. We were taught much more technique back then, from fabrication of dentures to castings and even welding bands and spelling our names with bent orthodontic wire.

Underneath, we had to master only a few skill sets, in operative, prosthetics, periodontics, endodontics and surgery, along with a smattering of pedo. It was hardly much compared to the body of knowledge expected to be comprehended and the range of clinical skills expected of today's dental school graduates, especially those pursuing general dentistry. I was among the very few, back then, who competed an additional year (PGY1).

Dr. Peterson raises three important questions. One relates to how well today's dental school graduates compare to yesterday's. The second compares dentistry to most, if not all other American health professions, which require completion of residencies, prior to entering practice. The third raises the issue of testing for licensure, with an implication that only human subject-based testing provides "any inkling of what a school's graduating class is capable of."

"Inkling." Hardly a reason to put almost 6,000 dental students through the hodgepodge of the various boards, costing perhaps $15 million or more every year. Add the associated costs, borne by dental schools, and the figure is much greater.

It was indeed serendipitous that the ADA News had a front page story of dental examinations and their impact upon mobility ("ADA Calls for Increased Licensure Portability," April 4 ADA News). What is needed is a determination, once and for all, whether or not the traditional clinical examination, using human subjects, is a valid protector of the public. The same for OSCE, portfolio and PGY-1.

American dentistry should answer Dr. Peterson's letter with evidence.

Allen Hindin, D.D.S.
Danbury, Connecticut