Impact of COVID-19 on dental education in Europe: the student perspective

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Eur J Dent Educ. 2021 Dec 9. doi: 10.1111/eje.12736. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted dental students and postgraduate residents around the world, forcing them to adapt quickly to new forms of teaching and learning. Dental school principals needed to ensure academic continuity, which is why the majority of in-person assets were moved to a virtual setting. The aim of this study was to identify the perception of students regarding the measures taken to adapt during the pandemic by different dental schools in the European Region.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study used a validated 37-item survey. Ethical approval was obtained from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Using this instrument, the perceptions of European dental students regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their education and mental health were identified. The questions were divided into categories: standard demographic information; models of education during the COVID-19 pandemic (types of teaching, examinations and other educational activities) and support received. The survey was administered using online electronic tools, and all responses were kept confidential. The data was processed through quantitative and qualitative analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 879 student survey responses from 34 countries in the European Region were included in this study. When asked about the time spent on their studies, 50% of participants (n=435) said they spent less time on their studies and 30% (n=265) said they spent more time on them. The types of teaching included showed a heterogeneous approach, ranging from online simulations to problem solving for the didactic setting, or a hybrid model with group activities for the clinical setting. There were wide gaps in satisfaction with the education provided, with 44% (n=382) being satisfied or very satisfied and 31% (n=279) being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Students were most concerned about their clinical experience and skills.

CONCLUSIONS: The qualitative and quantitative data compiled in this cross-sectional study allow a direct comparison between different approaches to adapt dental education during COVID-19 in the European region. Future studies are recommended that will also include compiling the perceptions of staff, faculty, and administrators on the transition.

PMID:34882932 | DOI:10.1111/eje.12736

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