Work shadowing in dental teaching practices : evaluation results of a collaborative study between university and general dental practices

  • Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the acceptance and assessment of work shadowing carried out by students and dentists in dental practices. Furthermore, the extent to which students perceive an improvement in their specialised, communication and social competencies, was to be examined. Methods: 61 dental students in their clinical semesters at a German university participated in work shadowing placements at 27 different general dental practices. Before beginning, they received checklists of various competencies that they self-assessed using school grades (from 1 = "very good", to 6 = "failed"), which they also repeated after completion. The dentists supplemented this with their external assessments. In addition, the students were requested to fill out a 54-item questionnaire and compose a freely-structured report after the work shadowing; the dentists filled out a questionnaire containing 16 items. The statistical analysis was carried out by means of the Friedman Test, including a post-hoc test (Bonferroni-Holm correction). Results: The analysis showed a significant overall improvement in the students’ self-assessed competencies by 0.71* ± 0.43 grades. With an average of 0.33* ± 0.36, the dentists’ external assessment proved significantly higher than the self-assessment. The greatest improvements were perceived by the students in the areas of accounting (1.17* ± 0.77), practice organisation (1.05* ± 0.61) and dentist’s discussions (0.94* ±0.80) [*p < 0.05]. The students confirmed experiencing an expansion of knowledge, an improvement in their communication skills and indicated a high degree of satisfaction in regard to the dentists (school grade 1.58 ± 0.93). A maximum amount of satisfaction towards the work shadow students was demonstrated by the dentists, and this form of teaching was assessed with a school grade of 1.69 ± 0.89. Conclusion: Both students and dental practitioners demonstrated a high level of satisfaction in regard to the work shadowing. The students felt their knowledge had increased, viewed the dentists as motivating role models and acknowledged a significant improvement in their specialised, communication and social competencies. Work shadowing in dental teaching practices presents a sensible addition to academic teaching at a university.

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Author:Stefan J. Heitkamp, Stefan RüttermannORCiDGND, Susanne Gerhardt-SzépGND
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):BMC medical education
Publisher:BioMed Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/05/08
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/08/16
Tag:Benefit; Dental training; Evaluation; General dental practice; Medical communication; Medical traineeship; Multi-modal feedback; Work shadowing
Issue:1, Art. 99
Page Number:14
First Page:1
Last Page:14
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0