There has been considerable expansion in the involvement of community-based clinical teaching programmes (sometimes termed 'outreach teaching') in UK and other international dental schools. While there has been much interest in the role of this educational methodology in the professional and educational development of student dentists, there has been little, if no, consideration of this form of teaching in relation to dental care professional (DCP) students. The aim of this pilot investigation was to report the feedback and evaluation of current and former student dental therapists and dental hygienists on their experience on the St David's community-based clinical teaching programme at Cardiff.
In Autumn 2009, a questionnaire was distributed by hand to the current second year student dental therapist and dental hygiene class at Cardiff (n = 18) and by post to the dental therapist and dental hygiene classes of 2004 (n = 16) and 2007 (n = 17). The questionnaire included both 'open' and 'closed' questions.
Thirty responses were returned (response rate = 59%; 2004 (n = 5, 31%), 2007 (n = 9, 53%), current class (n = 16, 89%)). Seventy percent of respondents (n = 21) reported that they found the community-based clinical teaching programme to be a pleasant working environment and close to subsequent independent practice. Seventy-seven percent (n = 23) reported that their confidence performing nonsurgical periodontal treatment had increased while at the programme. One respondent commented that the programme was '...an invaluable and insightful introduction to what it would be like working in practice. Without being given the experience, it would have been a big shock to the system when I started working in practice...'
This pilot investigation has revealed that current and former dental therapist and dental hygiene students are enthusiastic in their support for the inclusion of community-based clinical teaching programmes in their educational and professional development. Most former and current dental therapist and dental hygiene students noted the positive effects of this form of training on their subsequent clinical careers.