Belongingness in undergraduate dental education

D. R. Radford, P. Hellyer

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Abstract

Objective
To undertake a detailed educational evaluation into dental students’ experience of the concept of belongingness and their development as ‘safe beginners’ on an outreach placement at the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy (UPDA).

Method
The participants were asked two questions: Did you feel belongingness at UPDA?; and When in your year rotation did you feel this? They completed the educational evaluation anonymously in their last week of attendance. The quantitative data was handled with descriptive statistics and the qualitative data was analysed for recurring themes.

Results A 95% response rate was achieved. Eighty six percent of respondents strongly agreed to feeling belongingness and 56% felt it after their first two weeks. Four themes were identified: ‘Interaction with the preexisting people environment’ (1a. Initial welcoming and warmth 1b. Continued interest in me as an individual); ‘Developing collegiality’ (2a. My group of fellow students 2b. Working with the dental team as a dentist 2c. The team of everyone at UPDA); ‘In the clinical environment’ (3a. Being a dentist with responsibility and respect 3b. The physical environment 3c. Becoming a reflective independent practitioner); and ‘Leadership’.

Conclusion
Belongingness in dental education should be defined as:- a deeply personal and contextually mediated experience in which a student becomes an essential and respected part of the dental educational environment where all are accepted and equally valued by each other and which allows each individual student to develop autonomy, self-reflection and self-actualisation as a clinician.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-543
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Volume220
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016

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