DDS Program - Fourth Year
During the first three years of the curriculum, students have little option in the coursework they must complete. The fourth-year selective program allows students to pursue their career interests in dentistry or to begin to focus on a specialty area that may or may not be pursued after graduation. Fourth-year students select courses from a wide range of clinical, basic, and behavioral sciences, based on their individual interests. Students enroll in a minimum of 2 credit hours or two courses of selectives in the fall and spring semesters.
The minors program is an option that allows fourth-year students to focus their course selections and gain additional clinical experience in specific areas of individual interest. The term "minor" is used to maintain a clear distinction from every graduate’s "major," which is general dentistry. Current minors include endodontics, fixed prosthodontics, oral diagnostic science, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics. Students admitted to one of these minors take a set program of clinical and didactic courses and work more closely with the faculty of a particular department. Interested students apply to participating departments at the end of the third year.
In the fourth year, the time devoted to clinical patient care is expanded. Fourth-year students spend five full days in the clinic each week, with classes and labs scheduled before clinic at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. or after clinic at 4:00 p.m. Students remain in the operatories assigned for their use at the end of the second year. Fourth-year students provide all phases of dental care to between twenty-two and twenty-six patients. At this level, students take on the major responsibility for determining and meeting their patients’ treatment needs, and learn to examine, diagnose, and develop treatment plans; they also schedule care for their patients in an efficient and productive manner. The objective of this fourth-year clinical experience is to simulate private practice and facilitate the transition to the responsibilities of a licensed practitioner.
Off-Campus Clinical Experience
Continued rotations through local hospital dental clinics provide additional clinical experience. In the fourth year, the hospital experience is broadened and students have the opportunity to participate in rounds and clinical conferences.