Exchange students from Dresden University experience working in Canada

Tarwinder Rai - 01 June 2015

The lectures are the same. The procedures are the same. Even the course material is almost the same. But there's one difference a group of visiting dental students from Dresden University of Technology from Germany are quick to point out.

"We have to go find our own patients," says Leonie Boesser. "Our clinic is operated much like a private clinic and discounted fees are limited. We're glad to be here and thank the organizers and supporters for making it possible."

It's exactly this patient experience and the appeal of another culture that attracts students to this program.

Each year, the School of Dentistry hosts 8 fourth-year dental students from Dresden in May and June. The exchange program allows both countries to see dentistry at work in two distinctly different health systems and cultures.

"The profession is different here," says Maxi Biermann. "Dental hygiene system is very integrated in patient-care and contamination control is very high. It's exciting to see how things are operated here."

For Mattias Ziegler and Sophia Mintert, along with the others, the practical work experience they'll gain is the most valuable. In Germany, 63 students from their class must share 16 dental chairs and 1.5 days a week are only dedicated to seeing patients.

"This is where our program is different from here. After our education, we complete a two-year dental residency to gain experience," he said. "Being here will help me improve my skills and I'll be able to treat my patients better."

Being exposed to the different sides of dentistry - pediatrics, orthodontics and general practice - all add the experience.

"Coming here not only gives us training, but we are able to practice our English," says Mintert. "I love to work with kids and I am excited to be able to work with the kids here."

The students will spend a total of four weeks working in the School's satellite clinics.