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J Dent Educ. 2013 Sep;77(9):1193-201.

Dental students' reflections on clinical placement in a rural and indigenous community in Australia.

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DOH, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, QLD 4222, Australia.


Clinical placements away from the dental school are now an integral and important component of dental education internationally. This article presents feedback from students on their experience in a remote rural clinical placement in Australia by year cohorts 2009, 2010, and 2011. An online feedback survey instrument and compulsory reflective journals were analyzed both by calendar year cohort and amongst individual student groups. The information obtained suggests that overall this was a very positive experience for most students and the clinical experience gained was valued highly. Many students wrote positively about their cultural experiences and the knowledge they gained of life in a remote rural area. Many were pleased with the contribution they made to the oral health treatment needs of the community. Concerns related to the lower patient flow and the inferior quality of equipment compared to that in the main university clinic and with delays in maintaining and repairing equipment. While the overall outcome was positive, significant challenges face all stakeholders to maintain and enhance the clinical and social experiences of these future practitioners. The true impact of the placement will only be realized when graduates are confident to venture into clinical practice settings in rural locations.


Australia; Indigenous communities; clinical education; community-based dental education; dental education; dental students; reflection; remote rural placement

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