Undergraduate students’ experiences of outreach placements in dental secondary care settings


Ilona G. Johnson
Applied Clinical and Public Health Research
School of Dentistry
Cardiff University
Heath Park
Cardiff CF14 4XY, UK
Tel./Fax: +44 292074 5490
e-mail: johnsonig@cardiff.ac.uk


Introduction:  Outreach teaching is delivered as part of the undergraduate curricula of many dental schools. Evaluations of outreach in primary care settings have found learning opportunities beyond those available in the dental school setting, but less is known about secondary care placements. The aim of this evaluation was to assess dental students’ experiences of an undergraduate outreach placement in secondary care.

Materials and methods:  Questionnaire survey based on a single cohort of final-year undergraduate dental students at Cardiff University who had completed a 1-week outreach secondment to a District General Hospital.

Results:  Fifty-five of the 57 eligible students completed the questionnaire. Outreach placements in secondary care were experienced to provide positive additional educational benefit and were considered to be worthwhile by many (but not all) students. Clinical opportunities and staff teaching varied by site.

Discussion:  In the current programme, the variability of student experience during secondments to secondary care means that some students report more benefit than others. However, even apparently negative experiences, such as cancelled operating lists, can contribute to the overall outcome in that they accurately reflect the reality of hospital practice.

Conclusion:  Careful management of secondary care undergraduate secondments is needed to ensure worthwhile learning experiences.