Challenges Associated with Learning Oral Diagnostic Sciences: A Multicenter Study in Nigeria
Introduction: Oral diagnostic sciences (ODS) comprise the subjects, oral pathology, oral medicine, oral radiology and the functional integration of these into the oral diagnostic services. Oral diagnostic science has peculiar challenges with learning and training in sub-Saharan Africa. Several barriers that may impede effective clinical teaching include inadequate institutional financial support and lack of access to appropriate educational space and resources. The aim of this study was to categorize challenges of learning ODS in Nigeria.
Methods: This was a cross sectional survey of undergraduate dental students (UDS) and resident doctors (RDS) in dentistry in five institutions in Nigeria. The study included 286 participants comprised of 199 UDS and 87 RDS. Information about challenges of trainer, trainee and facilities was obtained by using pretested structured questionnaires. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 23 and tests of associations between variables were determined using Chi-square. The level of significance was set at p < 5%.
Results: The mean age of the study participants was 27.2 (± 4.6) years and 60.6% were males. The majority, 72.4% of RDS and 64.3% of UDS, indicated that getting a good ODS education was important to them. Few, 19.5% of RDS and 8.5% of UDS indicated that they would consider ODS as a career. While 37.9% of RDS decided that their examinations are fair and objective, 50.8 % of UDS agreed that their examinations were fair and objective (p < 0.05). The percentage of RDS and UDS which felt that ODS consultants sometimes give contrary information to textbook material were 26.4% and 29.1% respectively, however 28.7% of RDS and 34.2% of UDS were undecided about this issue. Thirty-eight (43.7%) specified that lack of a structured postgraduate curriculum in ODS caused their challenge with learning
Conclusions: Trainee level affected the participants’ perceived challenges of learning ODS. Despite the differences, the results showed that most of the challenges were common to both undergraduate and postgraduate training.
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