Dental School wins first-place UT System innovation award
By Rosanne Fohn
A team from the Dental School at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio led by John Rugh, Ph.D., has received first place in the UT Academy of Health Science Education Innovation Awards.
It is the first time a dental education program has won first place. The awards were announced Feb. 22 at The University of Texas System’s 2013 Innovations in Health Science Education Annual Conference.
Dr. Rugh is a professor in the Department of Developmental Dentistry and director of the Dental School’s Evidence-Based Practice Program.
UT Academy of Health Science Education induction
Also during the conference, Dr. Rugh and Sandra Adams, M.D., M.S., were inducted into the UT Academy of Health Science Education.
Dr. Adams is an associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary Disease & Critical Care Medicine in the School of Medicine. The academy recognizes outstanding educators who advance knowledge and innovation in the field of education. After their election, academy members can use the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor.
The CATs Initiative
The award-winning Dental School project is called the “CATs (Critically Appraised Topics) Initiative: Incorporating Evidence-Based Practice into the Dental School Curriculum.”
“This is really a Dental School award,” Dr. Rugh said. “More than 130 faculty members and administrators have been involved in the program over the past seven years, and more than 500 dental students and residents have played key roles by writing CATs as part of their coursework.”
Teaching dental students about research
Through the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) program, dental students and residents learn the basics of EBP by developing focused questions about challenging clinical issues. Under the guidance of Dental School faculty members, the students and residents learn to consult scientific literature for studies related to their clinical question and evaluate the research for the best solution. They then write a short, critically appraised topic (CAT) on the most reasonable solution.
The CATs are published in the Dental School’s CATs Library, a searchable database that is quickly becoming a worldwide resource for up-to-date oral health care knowledge. “Since May 2011 when we launched the CATs Library, we have had more than 91,000 page views from people in 119 countries,” Dr. Rugh said. “Several dental schools are visiting our website routinely, and we are indexed by the British TRIP Database (a fast-result evidence-based clinical search engine). In the TRIP Database, our CATs come up as ‘evidence-based synopses,’ which are one of their higher-level evidence classifications. One of our student/faculty coauthored CATs usually comes up in the top 10 to 20 hits.”
Creating lifelong learners
“We are very proud of Dr. Rugh and his team, as well as our entire faculty, students and residents, for the implementation of this award-winning education and research program,” said Kevin Donly, D.D.S., M.S., professor and chair of the Department of Developmental Dentistry. “The CATs Library has become a helpful, quick reference for the practice community while teaching our students and residents how to become lifelong learners and contributors to scientific literature.”
Evaluation and measurement
During the initiative, Dr. Rugh’s team developed and validated several EBP measurement tools, including KACE (Knowledge, Attitudes, Accessing, Confidence Evaluation), used before and after EBP training in the classroom, and the Objective Structured Clinical Evaluation, used by students in an evidence-based clinical rotation developed during the initiative.
Developing student researchers
The initiative also has been a strong catalyst for student research, with more than 60 student papers, abstracts, posters and presentations on various aspects of CATs produced over the past five years. Dental students have given multiple presentations about EBP and CATs at national and international meetings, including, for the third consecutive year, the American Dental Association’s Evidence-Based Dentistry Champions Conference set for April 25-27.
Dr. Rugh was formerly chair of the Department of Orthodontics, director of research for the Dental School and past president of the American Association of Dental Research. He obtained a $648,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to implement the EBP program that is now a component of the Dental School’s $2.5 million U.S. Public Health Service Faculty Development Program, of which Dr. Rugh is co-principal investigator.
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