Aim: Outreach teaching is now regarded as a desirable component of undergraduate dental teaching programmes in the UK. A purpose-built undergraduate dental outreach-training centre was opened in Cardiff in 2002. The aim of this paper is to report student perspectives and opinions on their experience at this unit over a 5-year period.
Methods: Final year dental students at Cardiff University were invited to report their comments on the St David's Primary Care Unit at various times during their placement there. Information was recorded for undergraduate students who commenced final year in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 (n = 257).
Results: After 1 year, the most common favourable aspects reported by students included the availability of a suitably trained nurse for all procedures (n = 191), ready access to helpful/approachable teaching staff (n = 145), and closeness of learning experience to subsequent practice (n = 122). Many students commented on their growing confidence in their own abilities whilst in the unit.
Conclusion: Overwhelmingly, students reported their enthusiasm for training in an outreach teaching unit, preferring it to traditional dental school environments. Inherent in the comments recorded for each student was a sense of growing confidence in their abilities and development of reflective practice. Further work is needed to identify the impact of this form of dental student training on subsequent practices in Vocational Training and independent clinical careers.