Introduction: The medical education literature has shown positive student performance with and attitudes towards dyad clinical practice. There is a paucity of literature about dental student dyad practices. Present study describes experiences and perceptions about dyad practice at a teaching clinic in Denmark.
Methods: Qualitative Description methods were used to reveal clinical dyad learning phenomena based on semi-structured interviews. A purposeful sampling strategy focused on recruiting experienced informants, that is, eight final-year clinical dental students. They were asked to describe overall assessments, advantages, disadvantages, teaching styles and improvement suggestions for dyad learning. In content analyses, interview descriptions were coded in categories. Codings were summarized and patterns were identified using NVivo software. Findings were condensed in a short follow-up questionnaire for the same informants for validation of interview findings and estimates of informant agreement.
Results: Informants described overall assessment as positive with the main qualifying condition that dyad learning was best for less experienced clinical students. Main benefits found were 1) support for remembering theory and procedures at chairside, 2) learning by sharing mistakes and successes, 3) built-in quality control, 4) optimized teacher time and 5) a safe learning environment that allayed stress and promoted self-confidence. Main disadvantages were less hands-on chair time and lack of experience with learning to operate independently. Informants described success in dyad practice as learning to communicate needs and expectations in order to avoid conflicts. Informants described best teacher practices as striving to activate both partners in the dyad. Suggestions for optimizing dyad learning: 1) dyads in less available treatment types, 2) less dyad time in later years and 3) partner reassignments in later years. Informants exhibited high internal consistency (α = .97) at follow-up.
Conclusion: Informants described that dyad practice tended to promote student self-efficacy, possibly reducing the stress of notoriously highly stressed dental students. It also appears to provide a good model for improving educational efficiency, especially in early clinical years, and for more difficult, complicated or less frequently encountered treatments.
Keywords: Dyad practice, dyad learning, clinical education, dental students, medical students, stress perceptions.