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Spanish Dental Student Visits UMSOD

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Written by Adam Zewe

Dental student Paula Franco Alfonso is visiting the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) from San Pablo University in Madrid, Spain. Alfonso, of Zaragoza, is entering her fifth and final year of dental school. Here's what she had to say about her experiences at UMSOD:

Why did you decide to visit the University of Maryland School of Dentistry?
I really wanted to see how the American system of dental education works. I'm also interested in learning more about dental technology.

What is the biggest different between dental education in Spain versus the United States?
In Spain, we go to university to study dentistry right after high school, instead of going to college first. Also, our dental program takes five years to complete.

What is the biggest similarity between the schools?
In both schools, the students and faculty are very close with each other. At my school, each class has only 50 students and we work in practices of 13 or 14 students, so we get to know each other very well.

What are some of the most interesting things you have seen here?
I have observed students and faculty in several clinics - oral surgery, advanced education in general dentistry and periodontics. I especially enjoyed seeing the CAD/CAM system. The most interesting experience was observing Dr. Vanessa Benavent in the Brotman Facial Pain Clinic. She studies so many different factors, like a patient's environment, and how that could relate to pain.

What do you enjoy about dentistry?
I like the ability to serve the patient in several different aspects. I can improve their health, but I can also make aesthetic improvements. By relieving someone's pain, I can help them have a better life.

What are some of the biggest differences between Madrid and Baltimore?
Here, everything is so huge. My hometown is small and Madrid is a little bit bigger, but you can take public transportation everywhere. In Baltimore, you are in trouble if you don't have a car.

What have you enjoyed the most about your visit?
I think the mix of cultures here is very interesting. There are people from all over the world and they work together very well.

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