Background: The primary dental care outreach (PDCO) course in Newcastle, UK commenced in September 2004 with dental undergraduates attending outreach clinics on a fortnightly rotation over a 2 year continuous placement.
Objectives: To evaluate the PDCO with respect to practical issues and clinical activity.
Methods: Clinical activity data were collected using data sheets and Access software together with data on patient attendances and Structured Clinical Operative Tests (SCOTs). Comparative clinical data were collected from the same group of students in Child Dental Health (CDH) in the School of Dental Sciences.
Results: In 2004/2005, 1683 clinical procedures were undertaken in PDCO and 1362 in CDH. Of the treatment undertaken in PDCO, 37.1% was examination and treatment planning, 17.1% basic intracoronal restorations and 13.1% fissure sealing, the activity representative of day to day in general practice. Completion rates for the five piloted SCOTs in cross infection control, writing a prescription, writing a referral letter, taking a valid consent and taking a radiograph ranged from 74% to 97% in 2004/2006. The practical issues and challenges of delivering a new clinical course broadly related to induction of new PDCO staff, support of staff, establishing effective communication, timetabling logistics, delivery of clinical teaching and quality assurance.
Conclusion: Once the practical issues and challenges of setting up a new clinical course have been overcome PDCO has a valuable role to play in preparing undergraduates for their future practising careers.