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The first crop of ambidextrous doctor-dentists goes into training this fall. they will emerge five years hence with a sheepskin in each hand, ready to drill a tooth or deliver a baby or to clean Junior's teeth and prescribe for his measles in one visit. The new Harvard School of Dental Medicine hopes that its versatile alumni will be biologically-minded dentists, better equipped to battle an unfamiliar tooth than the men whose training emphasized the theory and use of the drill. whether this can be accomplished by simply adding the ready-made Medical school curriculum to that of the Dental School is debatable; all the School's nine students count really count on is two professions and an extra year of study.
The dental journals have argued that the new program will slight basic dental training for medicine, to which the school replies that the full equivalent of the old Dental School is included. It is less able, however, to answer the charge that much of the medical training is irrelevant. A dentist has little use for psychiatry and less for obstetrics. Nevertheless, the near-equivalent of medical school, containing all but the electives of the fourth year, is fed to the potential super-dentists whether it applies or not. Some courses, such as obstetrics, have been slightly shortened, but the net result of this is to make a poorer obstetrician without producing a better dentist. Nor has there been any consideration of the fact that most men would rather be doctors than dentists, and that the school's graduates, sporting both an M.D. and a D.M.D., can give up the drill for the black bag in spite of the fact that they have had only three and one-half years of medical school.
The central idea of the new plan, that dentists can make good use of biological and medical knowledge, is well worth working out. the biological and medical subjects taught, however, should be chosen with a view to the actual needs of the dentist. Such courses as obstetrics could easily be omitted to make room for lectures on the relation of medical science to dentistry. The program should consist of a careful integration of relevant subjects, and not a mere addition of two pre-established schools.
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