Impact of early clinical exposure on the learning experience of undergraduate dental students.
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AIMS: The aim of this research was to evaluate the impact of early clinical exposure on the learning experiences of undergraduate dental students. METHODS: This study was based on mixed methods. The first phase involved administering a purposely designed questionnaire consisting of 16 items, grouped into three subscales. The second phase of the research was conducted using qualitative semi-structured interviews to explore the perceptions and experiences of stakeholders regarding early clinical exposure. RESULTS: In total, 134 undergraduate dental students and eight clinical supervisors responded to the questionnaire and reported positive perceptions regarding the learning experiences, professional relationship and learning environment. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 participants, and early clinical exposure was perceived to be useful in providing a context to theoretical learning and development of interpersonal skills. Curriculum overload and further need for consolidation were highlighted as the main challenges. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided insights into the clinical training model in an undergraduate dental programme and highlights the benefits and challenges of early clinical exposure in the study population. The study served as a vehicle for engagement with a range of stakeholders using a mixed methods approach to inform further development of the training model.
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