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Study in Greece Masters of the Week: Associate Professor Konstantinos Arapostathis on the MSc in Paediatric Dentistry at AUTh

The web portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the promotion and international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative educational advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign focuses on the foreign language study programmes that Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programmes and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options offered by Greek Universities.

Study in Greece interviewed Associate Professor Konstantinos Arapostathis, director of the postgraduate programme in Paediatric Dentistry offered at the Department of Paediatric Dentistry of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), about the programme, its features and what it has to offer to international students.

Dr Konstantinos Arapostathis is Associate Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and the Director of the postgraduate programme in Paediatric Dentistry. He graduated from the School of Dentistry of AUTh and obtained the specialty of Paediatric Dentistry in 1994 from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, USA. He got his PhD from the School of Dentistry of AUTh in April 2004. In 2014 he acquired the Masters in Laser Dentistry (MSc) from Genoa University, Italy.

He is an author or co-author of 49 publications in Greek and international journals. His research and clinical experience focus on dental phobia, stress and dental problems (children and adolescents who fear the dentist) and dental rehabilitation of people with disabilities. He and his partners offer their services to children through their specialised Paediatric Dental Practice called “Stomatofylakes”.

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Mr Arapostathis, could you please present us in a few words the basic rationales of the MSc in Paediatric Dentistry, which is offered by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki?

This is a post-graduate specialty programme in Paediatric Dentistry. It is designed to prepare students for patient care in a University dental clinic (currently accommodating 6 dental units) and in the hospital setting (currently affiliated general hospital Agios Demetrios). It is a full time 3-year (6 semesters) programme with theoretical/clinical/research duties in the English language and no less than 180 total ECTS credits, awarding an MSc (Master of Science Degree) in Paediatric Dentistry.

The objectives and the basic rationales of the MSc in Paediatric Dentistry are to educate specialist Paediatric Dentists and enable them to:

• treat to a level of excellence infants, children and adolescents oral needs, including the medically compromised and those with disabilities,

• participate in special care units with other dental and medical specialists for multidisciplinary dental care, such as in e.g. craniofacial abnormalities,

• pursue research and seek continuous updating of their knowledge,

• acquire the necessary teaching capacity for the transmission of knowledge.

Given that the programme is taught in English, please tell us why should an international student choose it?

This is a full time 3-year (6 semesters-36-months) programme with theoretical/clinical/research duties. One further year (tuition waved) may be granted for completion and submission of the required Master thesis to Aristotle University Dental School together with its respective submission for publication to an international peer review journal.

The objective of the programme is to produce specialist paediatric dentists able to:

• educate child patients and their parents on effectively preventing dental disease

• competently treat infants, children and adolescents’ oral needs, including the medically compromised and those with disabilities

• participate in special care units with other dental and medical specialists for complex dental problems, such as craniofacial abnormalities

• pursue research and seek continuous updating of their knowledge

• acquire the necessary teaching skills for the transmission of knowledge

The non-EU applicants are advised to inquire in advance about degree equivalence. For the non-Greek speakers’ applicants, even though the Tutorials and seminars are in English, they are required to speak Greek so that they communicate with patients and parents. For that reason they are advised to follow Intensive Greek courses provided by the School of Modern Greek Language of AUTH.

Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and a Metropolis in the Balkan Peninsula. Situated in the Gulf of Thermaikos on the Aegean Sea, the city is well known for its historical heritage, natural beauty, unrivalled sea view, but mostly for its youthful and upbeat flavour. With a population of 1.3 million, Thessaloniki has kept its friendly and laid-back character, making it an ideal student destination, easy to settle in and get around. Whatever your style is, this city will charm you with its rich cultural life, its large number of monuments, its exquisite cuisine, the vivid nightlife and beautiful surroundings.

Thessaloniki whiteThessaloniki’s history spans over 2300 years. The city was founded around 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis in the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It is a beautiful city built between the sea and the mountain. The architecture is the direct result of the city’s position at the centre of all historical developments in the South East Europe. The Byzantine Churches, the White Tower, several Roman and Ottoman remains and the Upper City are only some of the sites that enhance Thessaloniki’s charm.

Thessaloniki is a modern European city. However it has relatively low cost of living and can satisfy the needs of students’ budget. Key crossroad between east and west, Thessaloniki since its establishment, 2300 years ago, has always been a diverse and multicultural city. Today, with students from all over the world the city celebrates its diversity and international character. Though a big city, Thessaloniki has kept its friendly character and is considered one of the safest cities to study in.

Life in Thessaloniki can never be boring. With Aristotle University being the biggest one in Greece, the most energetic student population and its lively youth, the city remains vibrant day and night. Fabulous cafes, sizzling night life, bars, concerts and performances make student life in Thessaloniki even more exciting! Thessaloniki’s immediate surroundings include Chalkidiki’s unique sandy beaches and seaside resorts as well as beautiful mountains, lakes, and natural preservation areas that students choose for their excursions.

What future horizons and prospects are opened up for postgraduate students who would like to continue their studies and write off a brilliant career as researchers?

Research activities of the programme are a central issue. Preparation of presentations in international paediatric dental congresses, usually competing for a prize, and the submission of a manuscript to an international peer review journal is a must. All 27 PGs who have graduated from the previous programme have done so. Statistical advice for the research protocols is always available by statistician faculty members of other Schools at Aristotle, who teach respective courses in our School. Knowledge of basic statistics is given in the programme’s core course and advance statistics sought as needed for each PG project. When students are involved with laboratory research, training in lab procedures is offered by Basic Science department or other Aristotle University research establishments, while there is continued collaboration with research centres abroad. Our postgraduate programme offers ample theoretical, clinical and research experience to PGs, inspiring confidence for clinical as well as University career, often preparing them to continue for a PhD degree. In fact 5 of the 27 graduates have done (one from ACTA as a joint effort) or are doing this.

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Do you think that Greece as well as the Greek universities can promote knowledge in the field of medicine and attract more international students?

Greece is increasingly becoming one of the most popular places to study in. The country has around 24 universities, amongst them a few have even made it to the top 1000 universities by the Times Higher Education World Rankings. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is one of the top public universities in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is ranked #651-700 in QS World University Rankings 2023. Greece is a global leader in medical education and offers students the opportunity to study in a stunning, peaceful and progressive country. Greek universities have an unprecedented ancient and contemporary history of innovative education grounded in research, practice and entrepreneurialism. As Greece is in the EU, all universities are part of the Bologna Process for ECTS credits and students can participate in the Erasmus+ Programme. Living in Greece is affordable and the lifestyle is uniquely modern while retaining a traditional Mediterranean culture.

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is very active in terms of international initiatives and collaborations, so how do you consider that these strategies would benefit the Greek Universities?

International collaboration in higher education leads to breakthroughs in knowledge, the free exchange of ideas, and enduring bonds between institutions and nations. University partnerships provide a huge amount of opportunities for students and staff alike. Along with research opportunities and cultural awareness, institutions can offer international experiences, including study abroad programmes and staff exchanges. Partnership with dental schools contributes much through complex treatments and procedures, and in introducing and evaluating new technology.

Tell us a few things about your Department- its history, its facilities, the scientific disciplines and the research carried out by the university.

The Paediatric Dentistry department of Dental School of AUTH was founded on November 2004. The Postgraduate Programme of our department runs since 2008 (in Greek) and accepts PGs biannually. Commencing September 2019, there is a new 6-semester programme running in English.

The Postgraduate clinic of our department has six fully operated dental units, including two in quiet rooms and one equipped with Nitrous Oxide inhalation sedation. There is a separate x-ray room with digital imaging and sterilisation procedures by a dental nurse. Also, there is a seminar room with a capacity of 30 seats in 6th floor and the postgraduate students have their own office to change and study in 3rd floor. The programme is currently affiliated with Agios Demetrios Hospital for dental rehabilitation training under general anaesthesia. The stuff’s and secretariat’s offices are in the 7th and 3rd floor.

dentistry4Postgraduate students have free and unlimited access in all Aristotle University laboratory research facilities. For example:

a. Research laboratory in the Basic Sciences Department (within Dental building) equipped with a number of scientific apparatuses and instruments, e.g. spectrophotometers, fluoride electrodes, tensile and shear bond testers, optical/polarising microscopy, PCR, etc, mainly for hard tissue and material research.

b. Cell cultures and soft tissue research facilities in research labs in various other dental departments.

c. University facilities for large scientific instruments (e.g. SEM, TEM, confocal microscopy, micro-CT, etc) in various other schools at close distance in the campus.

For clinically oriented research, the Paediatric Dentistry and laser and the CAD/CAM technology clinics are freely available (provided protocols have approval of the School’s Ethics Committee). Outreach activities offer the opportunity and the initiatives for out of School examination of children, including those with disabilities, under various research protocols. Based on these protocols, 20 Master theses have been defended, all having resulted to respective publications; more such are on their way.

Laptops and notebooks are in use by all postgraduate students. Two desktops and five laptops online with the School’s central computer facilities are located into the PG clinic (plus one desktop and three laptops in the UG clinic) having made the need for clinic paperwork obsolete. All postgraduate students have ready access to WiFi Internet by their laptops/notebooks in the clinic as well as in study rooms. The librarian can help the student find relevant information from reliable sources for assignments and teach the student how to identify, navigate and use information resources successfully. There is online resource that provides access to more than 60 medical and dental journal titles (25 dental journals), and books on paediatric dentistry and other disciplines. The library of dental school is a branch of the central library of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with fully computerised information retrieval capabilities. In the era of computerised information, there are plans of uniting the physical libraries of 4 Schools of the Faculty of Health Sciences, including that of the School of Dentistry, and moving the unit in another Faculty building.

The interview was published in Greek News Agenda (GNA) – the online English language platform, issued by the Secretariat General for Public Diplomacy and Greeks Abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs): https://www.greeknewsagenda.gr/topics/education-research/7762-paediatric-dentistry-auth

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