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Qualitative Analysis of Dental Practitioners’ Perceptions of a Part Time Master’s in Restorative Dentistry

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Qualitative Analysis of Dental Practitioners’ Perceptions of a Part Time Master’s

 in Restorative Dentistry.

Fine, PD; Leung, AN; Louca, C.


UCL Eastman Dental Institute, 123 Gray’s Inn Road, London  WC1X 8WD, UK


Objective: This study explores the perceptions of General Dental

Practitioners (GDPs) following the completion of a five year, part time MSc

in Restorative Dental Practice (RDP).  It also explores potential new

pedagogy for programme development. Qualitative data were collected.

The learning experience and perceived impact of new knowledge and skills

on general dental practice were explored.


Method: Qualitative data from the GDP participants were collected via

questionnaires and individual interviews. The questionnaires requested responses

to open ended questions on overall perceptions of the programme, perceived

impact of the programme on clinical practice and future career aspirations. The

interviews (in person or by telephone) were semi structured and complimented the

questionnaire. Written consent was obtained from each interviewee prior to the

interview. Each interview lasted  40-60 minutes and was recorded and subsequently

transcribed by the interviewee. Data from the questionnaires and interviews were

analysed using a ‘thematic approach’,  which was undertaken manually.


Results: 18 questionnaires were distributed. 94% (n=17) were returned and 61%

(n=11) of the participants agreed to an interview. Analysis of the qualitative data

revealed: i) achievement of an overall satisfactory learning experience ii) a

significant improvement in confidence iii) positive changes to clinical practice iv)

work related restrictions in implementing newly acquired knowledge and skills

and v) a tendency to use personal development plans for future studies. Criticisms

included a lack of feedback from the teachers and inconsistences with student


Conclusions: Following the completion of a 5 year part time Masters in RDP, the GDPs perceived a profound impact on their clinical practices. All GDPs reported changes in the use of materials, the adoption of new techniques and a more evidence based approach to dentistry. The learning experience appears to have resulted in a distinct improvement in GDPs’ confidence, which was perceived to have led to an increase in the uptake of treatment by patients and  an improvement in employment opportunities. It should be noted that this perceived increase in confidence could not be substantiated with a measured increase in competence. The positive learning experience reported by the GDPs would appear to indicate that the mixture of didactic and hands-on practical teaching is an appropriate pedagogy for this style of programme.

Personal interviews proved to be an excellent method of gaining insight into individuals’ thoughts, ideas and aspirations. There was an outstanding response from the graduates resulting in rich, varied and interesting data. The majority of the graduates preferred to be interviewed by someone they knew; citing: feeling more at ease talking to someone they knew; someone they knew would understand their views better and they did not feel inhibited as they might do with a stranger.                                                                                        


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