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Keywords:

  • simulation education;
  • robot patient;
  • objective structured clinical examination;
  • risk management

Abstract

In recent years, with the increasing social awareness of safety in medical practice, improving clinical skills has become very important, especially for recently graduated dentists. Traditionally, mannequins have been used for clinical skill training, but a mannequin is quite different from a real patient because they have no autonomous movement or conversational ability. This indicates that pre-clinical simulation education is inadequate. We have, therefore, developed a robot patient that can reproduce an authentic clinical situation for dental clinical training. The robot patient, designed as a full-body model with a height of 157 cm, has eight degrees of freedom in the head and the ability to perform various autonomous movements. Moreover, saliva secretion and conversation with the trainee can be reproduced. We have introduced the robot patient into an objective structured clinical examination targeted at fifth-grade students in our dental school to evaluate their skills in cavity preparation, whilst considering the safety of the treatment. As a result, many of the students were able to deal appropriately with a patient’s unexpected movement. Moreover, results of a questionnaire survey showed that almost all the students recognised the educational value of the robot patient especially for ‘risk management’, and they preferred the robot patient to traditional mannequins. Practical application of the robot patient in dental clinical education was evaluated through the experiences of the fifth-grade students, which showed the effectiveness of the robot patient in the dental field.