The aim of this study was to describe the self-reported confidence levels of final year students at the School of Dentistry, Cardiff University and at the University Dental School & Hospital, Cork, Ireland in performing a variety of dental procedures commonly completed in primary dental care settings.
A questionnaire was distributed to 61 final year students at Cardiff and 34 final year students at Cork. Information requested related to the respondents confidence in performing a variety of routine clinical tasks, using a five-point scale (1=very little confidence, 5=very confident). Comparisons were made between the two schools, gender of the respondent, and whether or not a student intended completing a year of vocational training after graduation.
A response rate of 74% was achieved (n=70). The greatest self-reported confidence scores were for 'scale and polish' (4.61), fissure sealants (4.54) and delivery of oral hygiene instruction (4.51). Areas with the least confidence were placement of stainless steel crowns (2.83), vital tooth bleaching (2.39) and surgical extractions (2.26). Students at Cardiff were more confident than those at Cork in performing simple extractions (Cardiff: 4.31; Cork: 3.76) and surgical extractions (Cardiff: 2.61; Cork: 1.88), whilst students in Cork were more confident in caries diagnosis (Cork: 4.24; Cardiff: 3.89) fissure sealing (Cork: 4.76; Cardiff: 4.33) and placement of preventive resin restorations (Cork: 4.68; Cardiff: 4.22).
Final year students at Cardiff and Cork were most confident in simpler procedures and procedures in which they had had most clinical experience. They were least confident in more complex procedures and procedures in which they had the least clinical experience. Increased clinical time in complex procedures may help in increasing final year students' confidence in those areas.