A community engaged dental curriculum: a rural Indigenous outplacement programme

  • Menaka A. Abuzar |  Melbourne Dental School, University of Melbourne, Australia.
  • Julie OwenMelbourne Dental School, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Background. Indigenous people worldwide suffer from poor oral health as compared to non-Indigenous citizens. One of the approaches to bring about improvement in Indigenous oral health is to enhance the service provision by implementing oral health outplacement programmes. A case study of such a programme for dental students in Australia reports how an educational institution can successfully engage with an Indigenous oral health service to provide learning experiences to the students as well as deliver much needed services to the community.
Design and Methods. The assessment of this ongoing outplacement programme over the period of 2008-14, based on students’ feedback, highlights some of the key beneficial outcomes. Students agreed that the Indigenous outplacement programme improved their understanding of Indigenous issues (mean ± SD: 4.10±0.8; 5 refers to strongly agree on 5-point scale) and increased the possibility that they will practise in Indigenous health (3.66±1.0). They were pleased with the assistance received by clinical supervisors and clinic staff at the Indigenous dental clinic (4.28±0.8).
Conclusions. This programme has demonstrated that structured student outplacements are valuable in building relations across cultures especially with Indigenous communities. It has also shown that university engagement with the public health sector can be beneficial to both institutions.