Education | Published:

Clinical skills of a new foundation dentist: the expectations of dental foundation education supervisors

BDJ volume 225, pages 7380 (13 July 2018) | Download Citation


Key points

  • Highlights clinical skills expected of a new graduate by dental foundation trainers (educational supervisors).

  • Ranks skills in relation to a new FD's expected ability based on educational supervisors' feedback.

  • Reviews and discusses expectations of clinical skills that may be difficult to achieve.

  • Encourages communication between those involved in UG and foundation training.



To investigate dental foundation (DF) educational supervisors' (ES) expectations of the level of clinical ability expected of a foundation dentist (FD) on entry into foundation training.


Following ethical approval, a pre-piloted online questionnaire was circulated to ESs across England and Northern Ireland (n = 959), requiring respondents to rate their expectations of their FDs' ability at the beginning of the training year, in relation to undertaking 104 clinical skills. A five-point scale and descriptors were provided, ranging from 'on own with confidence' to 'unable to undertake'. Respondents were invited to comment further. Data were imported into IBM SPSS (v20) and descriptive analysis was undertaken. Expectations were assigned values and a mean, 'skill rank score' was generated for each skill. A ranking score closer to five indicated high expectation; closer to one indicated low expectation.


A total of 510 (53%) questionnaires were completed. The study highlighted a range of expectations which were used to identify 'upper-level' (core) skills expected of a new FD. The majority of expectations were in line with UG curriculum guidance; however, certain skills were identified as having overly high expectations and these may need to be modified to align with current guidance.


Understanding the expectations ESs have of a new FD is useful for both dental schools and those involved in DF training. Findings add to the existing evidence base and should generate discussion for those within the education continuum to enhance the successful development of the FD.

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We are grateful for the financial support from the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND) which made this project possible. We wish to acknowledge the contribution made by all the individuals who gave their time to this study including all those ESs that responded to the survey and the DF Training Providers who helped with distribution of the questionnaire.

Author information


  1. Cardiff University, School of Dentistry, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

    • A. S. M. Gilmour
    • , R. J. Jones
    •  & J. G. Cowpe
  2. Cardiff Unit for Research and Evaluation in Medical and Dental Education (CUREMeDE), School of Social Science, Cardiff University, 12 Museum Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BG, UK

    • A. D. Bullock


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Correspondence to A. S. M. Gilmour.

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