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Prepared for practice and equipped for employment: what do dental foundation trainers think of their trainees?


Key points

  • Reports important findings on the perceptions of foundation trainers about newly graduated dentists.

  • Supports the understanding of what constitutes trainers' views of preparedness for practice.

  • Introduces and links the important concept of employability.

  • Identifies attributes and areas to enhance undergraduate dental education.



Preparing students for independent practice and equipping them with skills to enhance their future employability are the overarching objectives of undergraduate Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) programmes. This study explores the perceptions of dental foundation trainers on whether these objectives are attained.


A mixed methods cohort study was used to explore trainer perceptions via an online questionnaire.


Less than half (43%) of trainers thought their trainee was prepared for practice but over half (55%) of the same trainers would employ them if they could. The same specific attributes underpin the perception of both preparedness and employability, but some qualities appear to solely impact on future employability. Clinical skills and independent reflective practitioner qualities are central to both areas, alongside 'communication and working well with patients' for preparedness and ability to 'obtain a comprehensive dental history' for employability. Trainers identified additional characteristics positively or negatively related to one or both areas, many of which relate to personal motivation and behaviour.


It is a challenge to educate for the development of such personal attributes. Successful negotiation of this challenge will facilitate the development of practitioners who are more prepared for the real world of dental practice. We recommend dialogue across the remit of undergraduate and postgraduate dental education to manage expectations of stakeholders and support educational strategies in both arenas.

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  1. University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School, John Bull Building, Plymouth Science Park, Plymouth, PL6 8BU

    • S. Hanks
    • , C. Coelho
    •  & R. Coster


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Correspondence to S. Hanks.

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