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Dental Graduates' Transition into Practice: A Mixed-Methods Study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard HolmesORCiD, Professor Gill Vance, Dr Bryan BurfordORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Objectives: The perceived preparedness to practise for dental students and newly-qualified dentists (NQDs) may be defined in different ways depending upon the measurement tools used. This study explored final year dental students' and NQDs' preparedness for the workplace relating to different aspects of practise, the factors that shape their experiences and the views of participants' clinical (university) teachers and (postgraduate) educational supervisors.Methods: A mixed-methods design involved sending a published 'preparedness' questionnaire to final year dental students, NQDs, clinical teachers and educational supervisors (ESs) in the north east of England followed by a series of focus groups. The focus groups involved a sub-sample of questionnaire respondents. These were audio-recorded and professionally transcribed. Focus groups were facilitated by an experienced researcher and followed a topic guide.Results: 74% (n=67) of final year students, 75% (n=58) of educational supervisors and 91% (n=69) of NQDs completed the questionnaire. Eight focus groups were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Questionnaire data found all groups generally reported high levels of preparedness on most items. Students and NQDs rated their preparedness higher than their ESs in some cases. Qualitative data revealed that perceptions of preparedness were variable for students and NQDs, often corresponding to participants' experience of procedures and the workplace. The most challenging area for NQDs was the transition from dental school to a business environment including managing the cost of dentistry and ethical issues related to National Health Service (NHS) patient charge bands.Conclusions: Preparedness is a complex and dynamic process which may not be optimally captured through questionnaire methods of data collection. Transition to the workplace assimilates past personal and educational experiences, requiring adaptation to a sometimes unfamiliar and unpredictable clinical and business environment. Educational interventions that acknowledge this complexity may ease the transition and adaptation of NQDs from university to practise in the workplace.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Holmes RD, Vance G, Burford B

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 2020 IADR/AADR/CADR General Session

Year of Conference: 2020

Acceptance date: 17/12/2019

Date deposited: 12/03/2020

Publisher: International Association for Dental Research


Notes: The 2020 IADR/AADR/CADR General Session due to be held in Washington DC, USA was cancelled due to COVID-19. Presenters have been informed that accepted abstracts will be citable via an online special issue of the Journal of Dental Research (JDR). Final Presentation ID: 2263