Nigerian Dental Students’ Assessment of their Clinical Learning
Clinical learning in medical and dental education provides students with knowledge, skills and proper etiquette for their professional life. Students’ assessment of clinical education is therefore important to help to promote excellence in medical and dental education in Nigeria. A cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire was carried out. Section A of the questionnaire assessed clinical learning opportunities and environment, level of patient care experience and opportunity to work in different health care settings. Section B elicited students’ perceived strengths and weaknesses observed in their clinical learning process. Strength of association was tested using chi-square tests with level of significance set at P <0.05. The hand written responses in section B were thematically analysed using the Taylor et al. (1998) protocol. It was observed that participants reported having good clinical learning opportunities especially as pertained to patients’ care. However, the students expressed dissatisfaction with the level of organization in the clinic environment, unsupportive staff and unavailability of facilitating resources. Factors like early exposure to procedures and patient interactions, adequate and knowledgeable faculty members, as well as the comprehensive nature of the curriculum were identified as strengths of clinical learning. Lack of opportunities for feedback to instructors and administrators, asynchrony of lectures with clinical rotations and the stress of fulfilling procedural requirements were identified as weaknesses of clinical learning. Nigerian dental schools need to improve on the clinical learning environment through provision of resources that facilitate learning and ensure that faculty staffs are more supportive.
Key words: Dental students, clinical learning strength, clinical learning weaknesses, learning opportunities.