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Clinical competency exercises: some student perceptions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Rolland, Dr Ross Hobson, Professor Stephen McHanwell


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Clinical competency assessments are an important part of dental curricula—to satisfy national requirements, maintain professionalism and ensure graduates are prepared for independent clinical practice. It has been observed within Newcastle Dental School (UK) that students tend to undertake the majority of their competency assessments at a very late stage. A questionnaire was designed to investigate student perceptions of two different competency assessment processes (formative structured clinical operative tests vs. summative grading), assess why they chose to undertake competency exercises at a particular time, investigate how well prepared they felt, and finally to evaluate potential barriers that students perceived within the competency process. Data regarding the timing of competency assessments and grades achieved were analysed. Fifty-nine per cent of students reported preferring the summative grading system. Most students felt that they undertook their competency assessments at about the right time (54%: conservation department, 66%: paediatric department) and the majority felt adequately prepared to undertake each exercise (68—98%). The greatest barrier stated to undertaking competency assessments was a lack of suitable patients both on which to practise and to undertake the exercise. No correlation was found between when students took summative assessments and the grades achieved. Therefore, we must encourage students to undertake their competency assessments once they have accrued sufficient clinical experience and reassure them that timing has little effect on the grade achieved. We should assist them to locate suitable patients wherever possible.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rolland SL, Hobson RS, McHanwell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Dental Education

Year: 2007

Volume: 11

Issue: 3

Pages: 184-191

ISSN (print): 1396-5883

ISSN (electronic): 1600-0579

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0579.2007.00453.x


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