Eastman Dental Institute


The Impact of a Postgraduate Learning Experience on the Confidence of General Dental Practitioners

26 April 2017

Peter Fine, Chris Louca, Albert Leung

Dentistry Journal

This study aimed to explore the relationship between participating in a learning experience and the ensuing changes in confidence. A self-selected group of General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) entered a five-year, part-time postgraduate master’s training programme in restorative dentistry. Confidence in communication with patients and technical skills were measured at the start of the programme by questionnaire and at the conclusion of the programme by questionnaire and personal interview.

A total of 72 clinicians started the programme; 27% (n = 20) completed the master’s degree. Assessment of confidence revealed a spread from 4/10 to 10/10 for communication with patients and clinical skills in restorative dentistry before the programme started. A total of 15% (n = 11) volunteered for interview.

Analysis of qualitative data revealed
(i)   a perceived increase in confidence from all clinicians;
(ii)  a perceived greater ability to treat patients;
(iii) an increase in treatment options being offered to patients;
(iv) a perceived increase in treatment uptake by patients; and
(v)  a greater job opportunities.

The study showed a positive relationship between the learning experience and the perceived increase in confidence of clinicians. The increase in confidence manifested itself in better communication and clinical skills.

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