Clinic Readiness Assessment of Pre-Clinical Students

Geist, Shin-Mey Rose, Lawrence Abbot, and James Geist

The purpose of this project was to investigate the effectiveness of pre-clinical teaching of clinical concepts and skill. Although many dental schools have introduced students to clinical subjects and provided clinical simulation in the first two years to facilitate a smooth transition from classroom to clinic, the effectiveness of this practice is unclear. Readiness assessment for patient care will provide valuable information for curriculum revision in preparing students for clinical performance in the absence of patient care responsibility. For the past three years we have given a clinic readiness examination to the new third year dental students at the beginning of their patient care experience. This assessment is composed of a written exam designed to test fundamental concepts and an OSCE exam for basic skills. Departments contributed both written and OSCE exam questions that they believed students should be able to answer since they were taught and practiced in preclinical settings. Students took a mock examination comprised of both parts two months before the actual exam to familiarize them with the content and format. Overall, the students‟ average scores were approximately 55% for each component of the exam in each year. Two factors may contribute to their poor performance:

  1. There have been no consequences for low scores on the exams, and therefore students may not make an effort to prepare for them.
  2. Students may believe that there is no way to study for the examinations.

We plan to correct these two perceived deficiencies by doing the following:

  1. Incorporate the exam into the formal curriculum by making the performance on the examinations count toward clinical grades or factor into grades in the second year pre-clinical courses.
  2. Prepare a list of topics that are covered in the examinations.

We conclude that after these two corrections are put in place, the exam results should be more valid in determining the effectiveness of teaching clinical concepts and skills, in content and depth, in the absence of patient care responsibility.