Internationally, regulatory bodies and Endodontology Societies publish curriculum guidelines that outline domains in which students must be competent upon completion of their training. The objective of this study was to undertake a review of the scientific literature assessing competence of undergraduate dental students in the domain of Endodontology. Further, the study aims to identify what assessment methods and parameters are employed by undergraduate dental programs in determining students’ competence for independent endodontic practice.
An initial search was carried out using Pubmed, Google Scholar and Science Direct with the search terms ‘undergraduate AND endodontics AND competence’. A secondary search was undertaken using the terms ‘undergraduate AND endodontics AND assessment’. Limits were applied to all searches to only include papers published in English.
Literature on assessment methodology and determination of competence is sparse. The focus of research in undergraduate endodontics is based mainly on technical radiographic outcomes of root canal treatments and students perceived level of confidence. Curriculum documents such as the ‘Undergraduate Curriculum Guidelines for Endodontology’ from the European Society of Endodontology outline the areas in which graduating dentists should ‘be competent at’, ‘have knowledge of’ or ‘be familiar with’ but does not detail what constitutes adequate clinical experience or competence. There are references in multiple publications to ‘competency exams’ which appear to assess radiographic outcomes of endodontic treatment only. It is clear from that a particular focus is placed upon technical aspects of root canal treatment with little data on assessment of other aspects of Endodontology.
There is a lack of research on how competence is determined in undergraduate dental programs for Endodontology. Whilst there will always be nuances to education and trends in various regions, research should be undertaken to determine how competency is best assessed and determined in undergraduate endodontic programs.