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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 323-328

Extramural oral health educational program involving individuals with disabilities: Impact on dental students’ professionalism

1 Centre of Comprehensive Care Studies, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia
2 Centre of PreClinical Science Studies, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mas S Ahmad
Centre of Comprehensive Care Studies, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh Campus, Sungai Buloh 47000, Selangor.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jispcd.JISPCD_74_20

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Context: Oral health inequalities experienced by patients, including people with disabilities (PWD), have been related to dentists’ lack of professionalism and inadequate experience in managing patients with special needs. Aims: This study investigated the impact of an extramural program involving PWD on dental students’ professionalism and students’ perception of training in managing patients with special needs. Materials and Methods: A group of 165 undergraduate dental students (year 1 to year 5) participated in a voluntary program, involving 124 visually impaired children, at a special education school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A dedicated module in oral health was developed by specialists in special care dentistry, pedodontics, and medical sciences. Dental students then participated in a semi-structured focus group interview survey to discuss perceptions of their learning experiences. Qualitative data were analyzed via thematic analysis. Results: The program had positive impact on various aspects categorized into four major domains: professional knowledge (e.g., understanding of oral-systemic-social-environmental health interaction and understanding of disability), professional skills (e.g., communication and organizational skills), professional behavior (e.g., empathy and teamwork), and value-added learning (e.g., photography and information technology skills). Students showed improved willingness to manage, and comfort in managing PWD, and expressed support for future educational programs involving this patient cohort. Conclusion: Improved knowledge, skills, attitudes, and personal values, as well as support for future programs, indicate the positive impact of extramural educational activities involving PWD in developing professionalism in patient care, while providing an opportunity for students to be exposed to managing patients with special needs.

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