There are topics in this profession that need we need to openly discuss. One of the greatest resources we have as dental students is to be surrounded by individuals who are passionate about dentistry. However, how often are we utilizing this resource to share opinions about the “hot topics” in dentistry? I believe round table discussions should be used frequently amongst faculty and students.
The round table is most famed by King Arthur as he congregated with his Knights. The idea was to eliminate the head of the table, insinuating that everyone was of equal status. So much of school is taught in a lecture format, which has its necessities, yet lacks the ability to gain class participation. Topics such as ethics demand open discussion. They demand that we speak our thoughts and listen to the thoughts of our peers.
A well structured round table discussion will last 45 minutes (perfect for lunchtime) and consist of 8-10 participants in a relaxed environment. A topic will first be presented for 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes of facilitated discussion and debate. A list of prepared open-ended questions should be used to expedite dialogue if needed.
Each and every student in your class has a different path that led them to their seat as a first year dental student. Culture, upbringing and education make each person unique in how they think and reach conclusions. In dental school, our education is again uniquely adapted by interactions with professors and the different patients we treat in clinic. Without a doubt, these experiences shape how we view the issues at hand.
Round table discussions can and should be applied to any type of issue. From ethics, barriers to care, licensure, Affordable Care Act and midlevel providers to brainstorming ideas for fundraising, improving logistics in clinic, and managing student debt – there is a lot to chat about. I encourage you to check out ASDA’s list of issues and begin conducting your own round table discussions at your school.
Our time as students is merely a blink of the eye in our professional careers. Following graduation, interactions with knowledgeable colleagues will become extremely rare. The time is now to utilize the resource of our peers and professionally tackle these issues head on together.
Does your school already do round table discussions? Tell us about it in the comments below!
~Andrew Naeger, Houston ’17, associate, Council on Professional Issues