In their own words: investigating the preparedness of final year dental students in the UK for independent general dental practice

Ray, M, Milston, Anne Marie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7491-5639, Doherty, Paul William orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3463-9112 and Crean, Stjohn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9336-8549 (2018) In their own words: investigating the preparedness of final year dental students in the UK for independent general dental practice. British Dental Journal, 225 (4). pp. 340-349. ISSN 0007-0610

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There is relatively little data on the preparedness of UK dental graduates for independent general dental practice. Two recent studies have indicated that graduates appear well prepared, but although quantifying the level of preparedness, they provide limited understanding of the underlying factors contributing to preparedness. This study aims to more deeply understand the contributing factors leading to assertions of graduate preparedness using focus groups of final year dental students, and semi-structured interviews of senior faculty members.

Materials and methods
Three UK dental schools were visited in order to conduct both study elements. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were audio recorded and fully transcribed. Thematic analysis of the transcripts resulted in the production of a thematic matrix.

The major categories of the thematic matrix were classified as extrinsic; including the role of educators and features of the course, and intrinsic; relating to fear of the unknown, the development of adult learning abilities and less easily identifiable attributes in the development of competence, which became known as 'bricks and mortar'.

Students felt that the most important factor affecting their preparation was clinical exposure. Outreach placements were felt to be particularly useful, the simulation of general dental practice being highly valued by final year students. The interaction with educators was also felt to be a key influence on preparedness, with the involvement of general practitioners in dental school teaching felt to be helpful, perhaps giving students an extended exposure to general practice.

It is hoped that the rich data derived from this study may allow an invaluable insight into factors contributing to preparedness of new dental graduates, which may then be considered in the light of any proposed changes in the curricula or syllabi.

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