Objectives: This descriptive study aims to understand student and faculty perceptions regarding the value of integration of outreach and service learning activities into the dental school curriculum.
Methods: Predoctoral dental students and faculty from our institution were invited to complete an anonymous online survey examining the integration of health care outreach in the curriculum. The study received approval from our university’s Institutional Review Board.
Results: Approximately 50% of faculty and 57% of student respondents indicated that they have participated in health care outreach in the past. The majority of respondents (90% of faculty and 89% of students) believe that incorporation of outreach into the curriculum would better prepare dental students to treat diverse populations. Eighty-five percent of faculty and 84% of surveyed students believe that dental professionals have an obligation to participate in outreach activities. Eighty percent of faculty respondents, but only 38% of student respondents believe that students should be required to participate in outreach. In contrast, only 10% of faculty and 19% of students believe that faculty participation in outreach should be required. The majority (71%) of respondents believe that students should be offered some form of credit for participation in outreach activities.
Conclusions: Most faculty and students believe that incorporation of outreach into the dental school curriculum would offer students enriched educational experience and better prepare students to competently improve the health of diverse, diseased populations. Data obtained from this survey will be used to inform ongoing curricular review, revision and innovation locally and nationally.
Keywords: Education research and Outreach
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