Students' Evaluations of Simulations in Dentistry: A Multiple Cohort Study at a U.S. Dental School

Academic Article


  • Simulation may help translate didactic learning to patient care in areas such as communication skills and medical emergency management. The aims of this study were to investigate how multiple cohorts of dental students evaluated simulations utilizing standardized patients and manikins and to explore evaluations of a simulation that combined social determinants of health with oral health education. All approximately 600 second- and fourth-year dental students at one U.S. dental school participated in simulation activities for five years (2014-18). The activities involved clinical communication skills with an urgent care patient, medical emergency management, and communication skills with a parent with low income. After the simulations, students were invited to complete an evaluation of the experience. Questionnaire items addressed perceived applicability to patient care, value of the experience, and fulfillment of objectives; and open-ended questions asked for comments specific to the parent with low income simulation. A total of 497 responses from D2 and D4 students were collected over the five-year period, as well as from all 12 periodontics residents in 2017, for an overall 91.7% response rate. The vast majority (>90.6%) positively evaluated all items for each simulation. The positive ratings ranged from a mean of 99.3% for the urgent care simulation to 93.8% for the parent with low income simulation. Positive student comments often related to learning from/with others and effective practice of teach back and patient education tactics. Students' most frequent suggestions for improvement called for better preparation. In this study, simulations with both standardized patients and manikins led to positive evaluations as well as anticipated improvement of clinical performance. These results suggest that incorporating simulation into an already-crowded curriculum is worth it from the student perspective, especially for reinforcement of clinical skills not easily amenable to classroom instruction.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McKenzie CT; Tilashalski K; Abou-Arraj R; Peterson DT; White ML
  • Start Page

  • 1142
  • End Page

  • 1150
  • Volume

  • 83
  • Issue

  • 10