Sir, we read the paper on dental core training with interest given the premise is important.1 Understanding the motivation for undertaking non-compulsory training assists in programme development and ensures that it aligns with future career intentions. Unfortunately, the impact of this paper is diminished by the misreporting of the survey data.
Within the results section, the narrative contradicts the data presented within the figures. For example, Figures 4 and 5 graphically represent the survey responses, indicating that the majority felt the SJT was fair and realistic (78.7%) and 37.2% felt it beneficial to the application process. This is at odds with the authors' interpretation that '47.6% of respondents felt that the SJT was beneficial to the application and ranking process, only 9.3% felt it was fair, representable and realistic'. It is reassuring to see the findings represented within the figures align with previously published data,2,3,4 including DCT specific research,5 which reported that 79.8% felt the SJT content fair and 84.2% considered it relevant. There is an implication in the paper that applicants do not regard the SJT as valuable and that 'the majority of the situations have never and would never arise'. It is important to highlight the robust national development process2 with clinician and other stakeholder involvement throughout, which ensures the SJT content is relevant to the role.
Additional reporting or interpretation errors include how applicants' preference training posts were based on geography: Figure 9 implies 41.5% of applicants were prepared to accept a post in any location, while this is interpreted as 53.0%. This contrasts with only 4.4% reporting that they based their selection on the job description (Fig. 10; interpreted as 89.1%). It is perceived that this is linked to the 38.3% of trainees reporting inadequate teaching/learning experience (data from Fig. 12; though 39.4% is reported in the text) and could possibly explain the 39.3% intending to exit the programme. If applicants preference solely on location it is not surprising that they are less satisfied with the overall learning experience. While this is not expanded on within the discussion, it is an opportunity for continued programme review and improvement.
Overall, this paper highlights issues impacting on the quality of the DCT programme. Unfortunately, the misreporting of the survey data devalues the impact and leaves us questioning the conclusions drawn. Therefore, we raise concern that this paper will be accepted as a definitive exploration of a set of complex issues, which in its current format, is likely to mislead readers.
The authors, Christopher C. Donnell and Jennifer I. Foley, respond: We thank Professor Patterson and her colleagues for recognising the importance of our recent research into the motivation, perception and experience of recently-qualified graduates in the pursuit of dental core training. As we would all concur, recruitment to educational opportunities should be robust, transparent and fair with an evidence-based approach to the selection process.
We can confirm that an error was introduced to Figures 4-15 by the publisher. We note that the print version of the journal reversed the Likert scale on the y-axis of these figures. Fortunately, this detail was picked up timeously and corrected on the online version which correlates with the prose within the results and discussion. As such, based on these corrected figures and as published online, we stand by our conclusions in this study.
Editor's note: the correction relating to this error can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-2021-9 .
Donnell C C, Foley J I. Dental core training: the trainee perspective. Br Dent J 2020; 228: 782-790.
Patterson F, Zibarras L D, Ashworth V. Situational judgement tests in medical education and training: Research, theory and practice: AMEE Guide No. 100. Med Teach 2016; 38: 3-17.
Luschin-Ebengreuth M, Dimai H P, Ithaler D, Neges H M, Reibnegger G. Situational judgment test as an additional tool in a medical admission test: an observational investigation. BMC Res Notes 2015; 8: 81.
Patterson F, Roberts C, Hanson M D et al. 2018 Ottawa consensus statement: Selection and recruitment to the healthcare professions. Med Teach 2018; 40: 1091-1101.
Rowett E, Patterson F, Cousans F, Elley K. Using a situational judgement test for selection into dental core training: a preliminary analysis. Br Dent J 2017; 222: 715.
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Patterson, F., Morley, E., Bird, J. et al. Diminished impact. Br Dent J 229, 326–327 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2185-3