Dental and Dental Hygiene Students' Perceptions of Status Quo, Benefits of, and Curricular Suggestions for Shared Learning: On the Road to IPE?J Dent Educ 2019; 83(3):322-333JD
In 29 U.S. academic institutions, dental and dental hygiene students are educated on the same campus. The aims of this study were to explore the perceptions of dental and dental hygiene students on the same campus concerning the status quo of shared educational experiences, the benefits of shared education, and their curricular suggestions for shared education. Additionally, the study investigated whether the number of shared courses was correlated with the perceived benefits of shared learning. A survey was sent in 2016 to a chief administrator at all 29 dental school and dental hygiene programs that were on the same campus, with a request that the administrators forward the invitation email to all their students. A total of 375 dental and 117 dental hygiene students at 12 universities responded. The students reported that three of the nine dental hygiene programs and two of the six dental programs had no shared courses. The majority of dental/dental hygiene students agreed or agreed strongly that having joint classes would allow them to develop better relationships between dental and dental hygiene students (57%/57%) and gain a better understanding of each other's roles (50%/63%) and of what the other discipline "is all about" (54%/46%). Compared to dental hygiene students, dental students were less supportive of suggestions for curricular interventions such as partnering up in lab (on a five-point scale with 5=most positive: 3.99 vs. 3.56; p<0.001), using in-class time for shared group projects (3.83 vs. 3.27; p<0.001), and shadowing in clinics (4.26 vs. 3.16; p<0.001). The more courses dental and dental hygiene students jointly attended, the higher their percentage of clinic time spent on collaborative care (r=0.19; p<0.001). Having dental and dental hygiene programs on the same campus offers opportunities for shared learning, and this study's results suggest those opportunities may translate into increased shared learning.