Dental students create new platform for online learning

By | March 14, 2021

This year, they will be competing for a second time in Harvard’s President’s Innovation Challenge (PIC) in the high-tech business-to-business track. They were recently chosen as one of 121 semi-finalists out of more than 420 contenders.

“We have made so much progress since last year’s PIC competition,” Breitman said. “This past year, we have accrued so much momentum. We’re so proud of our progress and are excited to grow alongside the other incredible teams in the PIC.”

They credit business and academic mentors and other collaborators who encouraged them along the way. During the pandemic, the team also took advantage of the ubiquity of Zoom to break down geographic barriers and collaborate with students from other dental schools including Tufts University and the University of Maryland.

“Being able to work with students and faculty at other schools has been the key to growing our platform,” Jennifer Lee, My Dental Key chief operating officer, said. “It’s helped to increase and diversify the content we offer.”

During the past year, the team members also published two manuscripts in the Journal of Dental Education related to online dental education, ran a pilot of their platform at Harvard, and have been invited to present at ADEA’s annual national meeting on the topic of online dental education and the utility of their platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I’m proud that we are an all-female management team. We don’t often toot our own horn, but from last year to this year we’ve grown from five team members to 15, and we’ve gone from a test platform only shared within Harvard to a live platform with a growing number of users,” said He.

The team monitors traffic to the website from all over the world. Currently, some content on the site is available for free, and some is subscription-based. Their goal is to continue to grow the number of subscribers and attract dental schools to the platform.

“We have over 350 subscribers to our website. These are people we can reach out to and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback that way,” said Emily Van Doren, My Dental Key chief information officer.

As part of their mission to democratize dental education, they plan to offer free subscriptions to students in developing countries.

“My Dental Key is a resource that dental students worldwide want and need,” said Alice Li, My Dental Key chief marketing officer.

Three of the founding team members will graduate from HSDM this year and go on to residencies across the country. Lee will go into pediatric dentistry, Breitman into prosthodontics, and He into oral surgery. Despite being physically apart, they expect to continue to keep growing the platform at a rapid pace.

“When we are no longer students ourselves, we want to keep involving students in growing My Dental Key. They are really fundamental to our model,” said Breitman. “This content is truly built by students, for students.”

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Health & Medicine – Harvard Gazette