Introduction: To improve the assessment of suturing skills, we firstly developed a checklist based assessment. As an aid to the teaching of suturing skills a video was subsequently developed.
Materials and methods: To validate the checklist a cohort of 57 final year students were videoed performing the formative suturing assessment which was assessed by two examiners independently. Two cohorts of third year students took part in the formal assessment but only the second cohort of students would have access to the video.
Results: The first cohort of 58 third year students' success rate was 93% and 1 year later 94% of 53 third year students were successful. One hundred per cent of the first cohort and 98% of the second cohort thought that the exam was a fair assessment of suturing skills. The majority of students thought that the checklist was helpful (94% and 93%). However, 62% and 55% thought that the assessment was a stressful experience. However, only 80% of the first cohort compared with 98% of the second cohort thought that they could now place sutures in intra-oral wounds.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that checklist based assessments of suturing skills were well received by the students and improved the objectivity and transparency of the assessment process. Further work is required to determine if teaching initially on a tabletop model can be transferred to the dental clinical situation.