OBJECTIVES: This study aimed at investigating the introduction of an infection control competency assessment on undergraduate dental student's awareness and knowledge of infection control. METHOD: A short course, including an introductory lecture and a three component competency based assessment exercise testing student's knowledge and ability in infection control measures was incorporated into the previously established training programme. The assessment exercises included a written test of students' knowledge of the Infection Control Policy, a unit management exercise and a hand hygiene assessment. The infection control competency was initially incorporated into the final term of the second year in 2004 and is now an established part of the 5-year dental undergraduate degree programme. Re-assessments were scheduled (at the start of third year) for students failing to meet the required standard as successful completion of this course was compulsory prior to students being allowed to treat their first patients. Student performance over the last 2 years on this course and during their first year on clinic were analysed to determine potential improvements in student knowledge and application in infection control. Examination results from the year 3, infection control spot test were compared with those of earlier years. In addition, the opinions, as assessed by questionnaire analysis, of dental staff and students on the infection control competency were obtained. RESULTS: All students successfully completed the infection control competency (either at first or second attempt) and were subsequently allowed to enter clinical training in year 3. Significant improvements were seen in students passing the course at their initial attempt, 42% and 78%, in the 2004 and 2005 academic years, respectively. Also subsequent testing of these students during their first year on clinic showed marked increases in awareness and knowledge of the infection control protocols. Staff and student feedback on this course was also found to be highly supportive of the introduction of the infection control competency. CONCLUSION: Incorporation of additional formal pre-clinical teaching and introduction of an infection competency potentially provides enduring knowledge and clinical application benefits.
- infection control
- hand hygiene
- undergraduate dental education