The factors that count in selecting future dentists: sensorimotor and soft skills

Abstract

Introduction Dental schools across the world are increasingly adopting 'multiple mini interview' (MMI) approaches to evaluate prospective students. But what skills and abilities are being assessed within these short, structured 'interview' stations and do they map on to the requirements of dental practice? Understanding the fundamental processes being measured is important if these assessments are to serve the purpose of identifying the students with the greatest potential to succeed in dental practice.

Materials and methods To this end, we performed factor analysis on data from 239 participants on ten MMI stations used for undergraduate selection at a UK dental school.

Results The analysis revealed that this assessment approach captured two fundamental underlying traits. The first factor captured scores on six stations that could be labelled usefully as a 'soft skill' factor. The second captured scores on four stations that could be described usefully as a 'sensorimotor' factor.

Conclusion The present study demonstrates that the structure of at least one MMI used within the UK for dental school entry can be parsed into two distinct factors relating to soft skills and sensorimotor abilities. This finding has implications for the efficiency of the interview process, the refinement of MMI assessment in dental schools across the world and understanding of the critical skills that a successful dental practitioner must possess.

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Correspondence to Faisal Mushtaq.

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Mirghani, I., Mushtaq, F., Balkhoyor, A. et al. The factors that count in selecting future dentists: sensorimotor and soft skills. Br Dent J 226, 417–421 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0030-3

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