The role of the curriculum and other factors in determining the medium- to long-term attitude of the practicing dentist towards life-long learning
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OBJECTIVES: To investigate the significance of the undergraduate dental curriculum on the medium- to long-term attitudes of the clinician to life-long learning, and to identify demographical and professional characteristics which may influence this attitude. METHODS: A specially designed questionnaire targeted 12 cohorts of dentists who qualified from Dublin Dental School and Hospital between 1994 and 2005. The curricula of the cohorts varied from fully didactic, exclusively Problem Based Learning or a hybrid for the oldest, youngest and middle graduates, respectively. Participants were questioned about current professional activities, postgraduate training, practice type, hospital affiliation, use of information services and time dedicated to continuing dental education (CDE), etc. A number of dental scenarios were proposed to determine if participants were adherent to current clinical guidelines. Additionally, a visual analogue scale assessed the overall satisfaction of dentists with their undergraduate programme and determined their opinion regarding its influence on subsequent ability to practice dentistry and keep up-to-date with scientific developments. RESULTS: Contingency analysis of the association between curriculum and continuous educational data did not produce statistical significance. Dentists who work in a hospital environment spend more time on CDE (chi(2), Pearson's, P = 0.001), are more adherent to current guidelines (chi(2), Pearson's, P = 0.005) and found their undergraduate studies more enjoyable (Wilkoxon/Kruskal-Wallis, P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Undergraduate curriculum type was found to have very little or no effect on the graduate's attitude towards life-long learning or confidence in their ability to practice dentistry. However, these attitudes did appear to be influenced by certain family, demographical and professional characteristics.
European Journal of Dental Education
Dentistry not elsewhere classified