Benefits and Challenges of Partner Site Engagement with Community-Based Dental Education Programs: The Partner Sites' Perspectives

J Dent Educ. 2019 Sep;83(9):1012-1018. doi: 10.21815/JDE.019.102. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


The aim of this qualitative study was to examine the perspectives of key personnel at partner sites providing community learning experiences to dental students to gain more understanding of the effects that community-based programs have on the sites themselves. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2015 with individuals from nine extramural sites. Interviewees had a range of roles from clinicians to CEOs, with six also reporting they were faculty preceptors. Three of the researchers developed a coding scheme focused on the benefits and challenges that community sites experience from participating in a community-based dental education (CBDE) program. Each coder then reviewed the interview transcripts independently before final group discussions and recoding to agreement. The main themes related to benefits were recruiting future dentists, staying current with clinical developments, sites' indirectly improving their missions by exposing students to broader roles of oral health providers, raising awareness regarding the need for dentistry in community settings, and nurturing a positive workplace environment. The main themes related to challenges were balancing education and training for students with clinical demands, communication with the university, and managing distinctive clinical and professional characteristics of students. This study's participants reported that the main benefit of CBDE for partner sites was dentist recruitment. The study also provided insights for both partner sites and dental schools to consider when developing and maintaining these partnerships.

Keywords: community dentistry; community-based dental education; community-institutional relations; dental education; preceptorship; public health dentistry.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Community Dentistry / education*
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Dentists
  • Education, Dental*
  • Faculty, Dental
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Preceptorship*
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Public Health Dentistry
  • Schools, Dental
  • Students, Dental / psychology*