Looking East: Dental Education and Practice in China

Dean Ferrillo with the faculty of Guanghua School of Stomatology
Dean Ferrillo with the faculty of
Guanghua School of Stomatology

Amid all of the attention on China’s impact on the global economy — from manufacturing to energy to its growing consumer culture — I recently had the chance to learn more about its approach to healthcare and dentistry, one area we don’t read as much about.

During the first week of January, a small group from our school visited China as part of a cross-cultural exchange. My traveling companions across many miles were Dr. Colin Wong, a graduate and former president of both the Pacific Dugoni Foundation and the school’s Alumni Association, and Gary Mitchell, current president of the Pacific Dugoni Foundation.

During the trip, we were fortunate to visit with students and faculty at the School & Hospital of Stomatology at Wenzhou Medical College in Wenzhou, a major city in the southeastern Zhejiang province. The leaders at the School & Hospital of Stomatology were kind and knowledgeable hosts to our group. They organized a tour of the school and meetings with faculty, where I learned more about their opportunities and challenges. Jianfeng Ma M.S.D, Professor and Dean of the school, recently spent time at the Dugoni School of Dentistry here in San Francisco where she and several colleagues gave a presentation, visited with our faculty and toured our facilities.

We also spent time in Guangzhou at the Guanghua College of Stomatology at Sun Yat-sen University where I gave a presentation and met with students and faculty. It was an honor to be presented with a letter of appointment from University President Huang Daren naming me as a visiting professor to the school for two years.

Our group was very grateful for the extraordinarily warm hospitality the Chinese extended us both in Wenzhou and Guangzhou. They truly opened up the doors for an exchange. I believe these dental schools together with the Dugoni School of Dentistry can develop ways to improve the quality of dental education.

As always, I am immensely impressed with the rapid development going on in China. The Chinese economy will rank second in the world, if it has not already, only below the United States. They continue to make tremendous progress in developing their economy and I’m greatly interested in continuing to follow their development.

As president of the International Federation of Dental Educators and Associations, I’ve had the pleasure to meet with many of the leading dental educators around the world to hear what’s working in their countries. By sharing best practices and learning from other educators, we can raise the standards of dental education globally and improve oral health for people around the world.