Preparedness for dental practice in Australia: a qualitative study on the experiences of final-year students and new graduates

BMC Med Educ. 2023 May 8;23(1):318. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04306-0.


Background: Limited data exists regarding the perspectives of newly graduated dental practitioners (NGDPs) and final-year students (FYS) about their preparedness for dental practice. This information is crucial to inform developments in ongoing professional development for newly qualified dental practitioners and future reviews and development of accreditation standards, policies, and the professional competencies of newly qualified dental practitioners. Thus, the primary goal of this paper was to describe the perceptions of preparedness for dental practice of NGDPs and FYSs.

Methods: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted between March and July 2020. All interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using a thematic analysis.

Results: Eighteen NGDPs and four FYS from across Australia participated in the qualitative interviews. A strong theme from the data was that respondents believed they were well prepared for common challenges in dental practice and patient care. A second prominent theme was participants' awareness of specific areas of limitation in their knowledge and specific skills including (list them). This data highlights a high level of self-awareness and potential for self-directed learning of NGDPs. It also provides specific content areas for future curriculum developers.

Conclusions: Newly graduated dental practitioner and final-year student participants were satisfied with the theoretical and evidence-based information in their formal learning and teaching activities to begin practicing as dental practitioners. In some areas, NGDPs felt underprepared, mostly attributed to limited clinical treatment exposure, and other contextual elements of clinical practice, and thought transitional support may be required. The research reinforces the value of seeking and learning from students' and NGDPs' perspectives.

Keywords: Oral health; Oral health professionals; Preparedness to practice; Student voice.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Dentists*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Students