The transition from being a dental student to a competent practitioner is challenging. In preparing final year students who are work-ready to enter the workforce, medical and dental schools in many countries have designed rural placement programmes. The rural placement program aims to provide students with greater clinical exposure and experiences (Krugger 2010, Strauss 2010, Johnson 2011). A study by Krugger (2010) and Johnson (2011) showed that rural placements for final year dental students provide students with learning and the opportunity to experience a rural and remote working environment.
At the School of Dentistry, University of Adelaide, rural placements have been a component of the BDS curriculum since 1990s. There have been changes in the rural placement locations and durations over the years. Since February 2016, final year BDS students have been offered placements in three locations; Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Mount Gambier. In 2017, the Riverland Oral Health Centre will be added the list.
The aim of the program is to consolidate students’ skills with intensive clinical exposure to general dental practice and community activities with low to moderate level of guidance and supervision.
The presentation will highlight the positive of our rural placement programmes. It will also discuss the challenges we face in working to provide these invaluable opportunities for our students.