Does the UK undergraduate medical curriculum prepare students in oral and maxillofacial surgery? A scoping review

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2020 Jul 24;S0266-4356(20)30264-3. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2020.06.005. Online ahead of print.


Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) is one of 10 surgical specialties recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC states that newly qualified doctors should be familiar with a wide range of specialties and should refer patients appropriately. However, inadequate awareness of and exposure to OMFS in UK medical schools have been widely reported. Two independent investigators conducted a scoping review of all published articles that have evaluated the preparation of students in OMFS in UK undergraduate medical curricula. Our inclusion criteria were UK studies, articles published since inception, OMFS education, and relevance for undergraduate medical students. Data were extracted in accordance with recommendations by the National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. These were then analysed by qualitative synthesis. Our initial search yielded a total of 351 articles. Following application of the exclusion criteria according to PRISMA guidelines, 11 articles were included in the final analysis. Four main themes were identified: exposure to OMFS in the medical school curriculum, knowledge of OMFS conditions, knowledge of OMFS career progression, and ability to refer OMFS conditions appropriately. A consistent finding was that most medical students felt that they had insufficient exposure to and awareness of the specialty. All the papers recommended the need for change in the existing undergraduate medical curriculum. This review shows an overwhelming need for further development of OMFS in undergraduate medical curricula in the UK. However, there is insufficient primary research to show how best to achieve this. We propose that future research should focus on improvements in the quality of the current teaching methods and the adoption of new innovations to inspire and educate future doctors.

Keywords: medical education; oral and maxillofacial surgery; review; undergraduate.

Publication types

  • Review