In September I visited Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara (SDM) College of Dental Sciences and Hospital in Hubli, India.
The reason for my trip was that I had been asked by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) to lead a delegation of consultants to visit the school as they begin the process of getting accredited. This is the first time a school outside the United States has reached this particular state in the ADA’s accreditation process. I travelled with two other dental educators (one from NYU and one from Baylor); ADA staff members; and a practicing U.S. dentist who is originally from India.
My experience at SDM was very positive. It is an extraordinary, young school – just 25 years old. In recent years they have worked very hard to move toward compliance with CODA’s standards. And while they perhaps have more to do, my impression was they were extremely passionate about providing high-quality dental education, and had great resources at their disposal. I observed that respect for education is high inIndia, visibly so at SDM. In seeing how enthusiastic the educators at SDM are, I have found a new respect for dental education and the work of my colleagues abroad as well as in the United States.
During my visit I also had the privilege of meeting the president of the SDM Educational Society, an organization which oversees not only this dental school, but many schools throughout Southern India. He is a visionary leader and his passion for trying to improve the quality of life for Indian citizens through educational innovation will lead to advancements in his country.
The Indian people I met were incredibly friendly, helpful and kind. I was fascinated by their strong religious beliefs and customs, particularly their reverence of cows. Despite often facing overwhelming poverty, the Indian people are deeply passionate and hardworking, especially in the city of Hubli.
Trips like this remind me that our school’s international partnerships are worth the time we put into nurturing them. In addition to helping each other become better dental education institutions, we can find a new respect for what we do along the way.