The ability to place sutures is an essential skill in dentistry. In our institution, the introduction of a video teaching aid and a checklist-based assessment has improved the standardisation of teaching as well as the transparency and objectivity of the assessment of suture skills. The aim of this study was to determine whether this skill once acquired is retained in the short term.
Materials and methods:
The same cohort of 67 fourth-year students performed the same assessment at two different time points 2 months apart. The first was a formative assessment and the second was a summative assessment. Feedback was collected on both occasions.
On the first sitting of the assessment, 93% of the students were successful compared with 79% on the second occasion. Student feedback was similar on both occasions with 77% and 75% reporting that they thought it was an easy exam. On the first occasion, 27% thought that it was a stressful examination compared with 43% on the second occasion, which may have affected their performance.
These findings suggest that regular reinforcement is required to avoid deterioration of suturing skills even in the short term. This might involve exposing the students to surgery earlier in the course and introducing regular formative assessments which the students appear to associate with less stress.
- dental students
- ASSESSING COMPETENCE
- SURGICAL SKILLS