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Keywords:

  • patient-educator;
  • education;
  • dentistry

Abstract

Ever since 2006, Nantes University dental educators have started organising lectures led by the mother of a young patient suffering from ectodermic dysplasia (patient-educator) to help second-year students to better understand how important it is for their future dental work to better understand basic sciences. In this study, we have analysed this training experience on students' motivation. For this purpose, students were asked to complete questionnaires 10 days after the patient-educator's lecture (early assessment; n = 193) and 4 years later, during the last year of their dental studies (delayed assessment; n = 47). Moreover, 3 years after the first lecture, we analysed the ability of students to diagnose a mother carrying the ectodermic dysplasia genetic disorder, using a case-based learning exercise with a patient showing dental features similar to those exposed by the patient-educator (measure of knowledge; n = 42). Ten days after the lecture, the early assessment shows that all the students were interested in the lecture and 59% of the students declared being motivated to find out more about genetics whilst 54% declared the same thing about embryology courses. Moreover, 4 years later, 67% of the students remembered the patient-educator's lecture a little or very well. Three years after the course, 83% of the students diagnosed ectodermal dysplasia whilst studying the case-based example that listed typical dental phenotypes. In conclusion, this study shows that this original educational approach enhances dental students' motivation in learning basic sciences and that patient-educators could offer many benefits for students and patients.