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In Conversation with Manuel Lutz
Looking to the next generation: the benefits of collaboration between dental students, dental manufacturers and dental practices

Looking to the next generation: the benefits of collaboration between dental students, dental manufacturers and dental practices 

  • The value of practical experience during dental studies

  • The value that dental students bring to dental practices

  • The value that dental manufacturers derive from student collaborations

  • Notes on optimizing dental studies in universities  

          

Manuel Lutz

Dental Student at The Medical University of Vienna

Student at Medizinische Universität Wien Spitalgasse 23, 1090 Wien, Österreich

In Conversation with Manuel Lutz

 
 

Students in dental schools and medical universities form the future of dentistry. There’s value in understanding dental students’ perspectives in order to ensure the broad field of dentistry continues advancing. How can dental clinics benefit from dental students? Do dental students receive sufficient training in the economics behind dentistry and dental practice management? Can the scope of dental studies in universities keep up with real-world technological advancements in dentistry?

Manuel Lutz, a dental student at the Medical University of Vienna, answers these questions and offers a student’s insight into dental studies. While he can’t speak for the entire student body, he offers some interesting insight into the current state of dental studies at universities. Our team at Zircon Medical recently hosted Mr. Lutz on our podcast series to discuss the advantages of practical experience in dental school, combining practice with theory, and much more.

Introducing Mr. Lutz, a dental student at TheMedical University of Vienna.

Manuel Lutz is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Dentistry Student Representation, making him the dental student representative at The Medical University of Vienna. He’s close to the end of his dental studies, with three semesters to go. Besides his dental studies, he also works as a dental assistan in a dental practice in Vienna, Austria, where he focuses on assistance to patients, preparation, and follow-ups.

Mr. Lutz says his desire to become a dentist was solidified at a young age because he lived next door to a dentist. He always loved his dental experience, and the dentist’s personality drew him in, making him develop a healthy curiosity about dentistry. He had briefly considered stepping into human medicine, and he also took a little detour with economics, but he eventually landed in dentistry.

Mr. Lutz says he didn’t actively pursue economics with the intention of combining it with dentistry, but he believes the two can be synergistic. He wants to eventually become self-employed, but he also understands the value of ground experience. That’s why he’s currently focused on finishing his dental studies, following which he’d like to work alongside colleagues and learn from experienced dentists.

The value of practical experience during dental studies

Mr. Lutz says that dental students who come from dental families have an inherent advantage. For individuals whose families are already in the dental field, it is usually easier to gain knowledge about how to start a practice, what to look for, what applications are needed, where pitfalls lurk, etc. In addition, the children of dentists often have the opportunity to work in the dental field. In addition, the offspring of dentists often have the opportunity to work in the family practice.  For people who do not have this opportunity, it is simply more difficult to obtain information in this regard. In addition, these persons must also clarify all questions about how they can open a practice at all.

“I see again and again,” Mr. Lutz says, “fellow students come from high school and go directly into university without having done a summer job or something. I think it’s very important to come into contact with the real economy, which you're absolutely spared here for six years.” He believes dental students should ideally pursue dental studies after gaining some practical, real-world experience.

However, when Mr. Lutz speaks of “practical experience,” he’s not merely referring to the technical aspects of dentistry. He says they have plenty of clinical experience during their studies because they perform on dummies, teaching units, and later on patients. He believes the clinical experience doesn’t come short during dental studies, but he believes there needs to be more accessibility to the private sector.

“Everything is done for us,” Mr. Lutz says. “I open the drawer, and everything I need is available. If I want to make a dental impression, I have to simply go to room XY to get the materials, no questions asked. But how does it actually get there? How are the components selected? Those are the kinds of questions people stumble upon later.”

Mr. Lutz makes a clear and incisive distinction between clinical experience and practical, real-world experience. He believes that all dental students need more experience with project management and the economics of dentistry. This form of training is lacking, and this could be a pitfall for some when they try to open their own dental practice.

The value that dental students bring to dental practices

Dental students often work at dental practices as assistants. When asked what value dental students bring to dental practices and clinics, Mr. Lutz pondered the question before answering that it brings new ideas to the surface. Universities are often criticized for outdated teaching methods when it comes to technologies, but they also focus on the latest research, and students are actively encouraged to think of new solutions and ideas. That perspective can be valuable to dental clinics.

The value that dental manufacturers derive from student collaborations 

It’s not just dental clinics and practices that forge a mutually beneficial relationship with dental students but also dental manufacturers. By collaborating with students, dental manufacturers, such as Zircon Medical, can introduce their products to a new generation of potential dentists. If students understand the product and the company during their university years, they’re more likely to return to the product when they become dentists with relative autonomy.

Mr. Lutz cites an example to demonstrate his point. “We had a cooperation at the university where implant manufacturerspresented their products during a workshop. They gave us a little bit of input about the product and let us try it out. We were allowed to place the implants ourselves. If you later consider that you’d like to procure an implant system for the practice, you’re more likely to select the same manufacturer.”

In his role as a studentrepresentative, Mr. Lutz says that they’re already focused on establishing a scientific focus. During such cooperations and workshops with manufacturers, they focus on the scientific aspect of the product, why it’s suitable, the results of its studies, and more. Because of their in-depth understanding of the product, they’re more likely to use the product in their dental clinics a few years down the line.

Notes on optimizing dental studies in universities

When asked about what he’d like to change or transform in the existing curriculum for dental students, Mr. Lutz ventures with caution and emphasizes that his opinions are completely his own. He believes dental students should also learn about decision-making, entrepreneurial issues, and the whole organization that lies behind an institution. He wants dental students to be more prepared to run dental practices rather than solelypracticing dentistry.

Mr. Lutz also says universities should focus on legal matters related to dentistry, including personnel, labor law, and corporate law. There should also be seminars to discuss how practices finance themselves and how one should go about starting a dental practice. Legacy students don’t usually need this knowledge because they grow up with it, but it’s essential for the broader student body.

Mr. Lutz also believes the dental curriculum should incorporate digitization, which is an incredibly important and big topic in dentistry. He says students don’t interact much with digitization because they primarily interact with their own systems. He believes this isn’t specific to his university but rather a larger trend that all universities must navigate — how to keep pace with advanced technologies and digitization.

When asked about his goals for the future, Mr. Lutz said he wants to focus on graduating and learning from experienced dentists. He’s not certain what his future path will look like, but he wants to forge strong mentorship relationships with specialists and learn all he can. You can find Mr. Lutz  on LinkedIn  or through the student council of the Medical University of Vienna. You can also listen to him on our Zircon Medical podcast.

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