The University of Manchester Dental School offers the opportunity for year 4 students to take part in an exchange trip during their summer break. Here, Dentistry students Aneta Korobczuk and Jenny Russ describe their trip to Tokyo and Niigata, Japan.
This summer, as fourth year students, we travelled to the Nippon Dental University in Japan for a two week student exchange trip. The visit included a week in Tokyo where we were joined by Dr Neil Patel, and a week in Niigata. Now in its second year, the exchange programme between the University of Manchester Dental School and the Nippon Dental University (NDU) is a fantastic opportunity for a first hand experience of dentistry on an international level.
As a part of the exchange programme, two students from NDU were hosted at the University of Manchester in July where they had the opportunity to experience dental education and patient care in the UK. It was also a great opportunity for them to experience British culture, cuisine and student life. Likewise, we were hosted by NDU where we had the opportunity to compare life as a dental student across both campuses; Tokyo and Niigata.
The two weeks in Japan were shared with six students from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. This year UBC and NDU celebrate their 30th anniversary of the exchange programme! Sharing the two weeks with the students from NDU as well as UBC provided a unique opportunity to discuss the differences in dental education, career paths, patient care and culture; broadening our knowledge on International Dentistry.
During our week in Tokyo we all enjoyed a busy schedule visiting the dental school, touring various departments in the dental hospital and learning about the Japanese perspective on current topics within dentistry. Our first week started with a tour which included getting introduced to the AI robots students practice on before carrying out treatment on patients. It was incredible to see the technology the students have access to!
We were also invited to view research presentations conducted by specialists in their fields, such as paediatric dentistry and oral surgery. This included the opportunity to test prototypes and research methods including a virtual reality experience aiming to measure patient’s dental anxiety levels. Another highlight of the programme involved a visit to the GC Corporate Centre where we were taken on a guided tour of the company, trialed newly released products including shake and mix dental stone and enjoyed coffee and cake at Kamulier, GC’s soft food cafe for people with dysphagia (swallowing difficulties).
In Niigata we visited the onsite dental and medical museum which included large collections of Japanese dental equipment used throughout the years and original text books. We also had tours of the dental hospital including the imaging department which housed ultrasound, MRI and CT scanners. In the paediatric department it was particularly interesting to see how a teaching station is used to acclimatize children prior to dental treatment whilst in contrast they also use physical restraint including papoose boards for anxious patients and patients with additional needs.
Specialist teaching on dental care for elderly patients was particularly interesting due to the large problem Japan is facing with their ageing population. We learnt about the different problems that dentists face and also about how they adapt their care and dental equipment. Aside from University day events, we received a truly warm welcome by the Dean of NDU Professor Yukihiro Numabe, faculty members and students at a beautiful French Restaurant called L’Alliance in Iidabashi.
The NDU students also organised many exciting extra-curricular activities for us! In Tokyo, we took a trip to Tokyo Disney braving the rides as well as enjoying an incredible fireworks and light display of Fantasia! We also went to the VR Zone in Shinjuku where we experienced incredible realistic VR games such as Mario Kart and Skiing!
We visited many beautiful restaurants such as Gonpachi aka the kill bill restaurant! And tasted a large variety of delicious Japanese food and found our favourite drink – Umeshu with ginger ale! In Niigata, we enjoyed a nice swim in the sea and a delicious beach BBQ. We had the incredible honour of wearing the NDU Yukatas and being a part of the Niigata festival Bon dancing then watching an incredible fireworks display on our last night!
The exchange programme provided such a unique opportunity for us to gain an international perspective on dental education, health care systems, research and local culture. Perhaps most importantly however we have now formed international connections and created lasting friendships with dental professionals around the World.
For a visual look in to Aneta and Jenny’s exchange to Japan, check out this video from UBC student, Michael Wong, who was also part of the exchange programme.