New school of dentistry in FNQ

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James Cook University’s Smithfield campus’ $22 million training facility for dental students opened this week, two years after the school started running in a temporary facility.

A clinical simulation lab – which includes 80 lifelike synthetic “patients” and complete dentist-chair fit outs – will be the centrepiece of the hands-on training complex.

“One of the differences between our dental program and the others in the country is that students, very early, get into clinical training, and this is quite critical,” JCU vice-chancellor Prof Sandra Harding said.

The university secured a $52.5 million grant to establish a dentistry program in the Far North after lobbying the Howard government in 2006.

It is the first dentistry school in northern Australia and the only one in Queensland outside the southeast corner.

“We need to train people in the North in order for them to stay in the North,” Prof Harding said.

“We know this works. It works in our medical program, and we also know it works in our dental program, and we’re confident about that.”

The dentistry school also features state-of-the-art labs for studying anatomy, microbiology and physiology.

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