Second and third year oral health and dental student perceptions of future professional work

Authors


Abstract

Objectives

To explore and compare the ways dental and oral health students characterise their future professional work (FPW) at the end of their second and third professional years.

Materials and methods

Questionnaires were given to a cohort group of 48 dental students and 31 oral health students at the end of their second and third professional years at the University of Otago. Students' characterisations of their FPW were identified using an inductive approach, and the emphasis on each characterisation was confirmed using a ‘weighted’ table.

Results

Dental student response rates were 92% (in 2010) and 85% (in 2011); and oral health student response rates were 100% (in 2011) and 97% (in 2011). Students characterised their FPW in ten broad ways: in reference to treatment-related concerns, patient-related concerns, oral health promotion, oral health education, disease prevention and monitoring, communication, teamwork, maintaining an ideal clinical environment, maintaining a sense of self and improving quality of life. In both years, dental students emphasised treatment-related concerns as central to their FPW and dealing with patient-related concerns as a primary source of difficulty. Oral health students emphasised oral health promotion, oral health education, disease prevention and monitoring and restorative tasks as central to their FPW and dealing with patient-related concerns as a primary source of difficulty.

Conclusion

Students' broad perceptions of their FPW changed little as they progressed through their programmes; however, their responses suggested the need for greater attention within their programmes to patient management and teamwork.

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