The Dental Schools Council (DSC) has published a report which analyses the safety of returning students to dental clinical placements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report summarises the relevant literature on COVID-19 and suggests opportunities to rationalise and manage risk within dental clinical settings.
Summarising the risks associated with restarting clinical placements and proposing ways to minimise those risks is critical to reassuring students, staff, patients and the public of the safety of returning students to dental clinics. Plans to restart routine dental procedures, including those undertaken by students, will need to be tempered by an understanding of the practical difficulties arising from the presence in both clinical and associated non-clinical facilities of variable numbers of students, staff and patients, and the requirement for social distancing.
Clinical placements play an essential role in dental education and training. By treating patients, students gain hands-on experience of providing dental treatment and expand their knowledge of dental theory. Returning students to placements where it is safe to do so will help to future-proof the profession should further pandemics occur. It will also reduce the risk this pandemic poses to longer-term workforce planning by preventing delays to the registration of newly qualified dental care professionals.