Marginalisation of dental students in a shared medical and dental education programme

National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education's picture
Submitted by National Center... on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:14am CDT

Internationally, there are a number of universities at which medical and dental education programmes share common elements. There are no studies about the experiences of medical and dental students enrolled in different programmes who share significant amounts of learning and teaching.


Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 36 students and staff in a learning programme shared between separate medical and dental faculties. They were transcribed and an iterative process of interpretation and analysis within the theoretical framework of the contact hypothesis and social identity theory was used to group data into themes and sub-themes.


Dental students felt 'marginalised' and felt they were treated as 'second-class citizens' by medical students and medical staff in the shared aspects of their programmes. Contextual factors such as the geographical location of the two schools, a medical : dental student ratio of almost 3 : 1, along with organisational factors such as curriculum overload, propagated negative attitudes towards and professional stereotyping of the dental students. Lack of understanding by medical students and faculty of dental professional roles contributed further.


Recommendations for reducing the marginalisation of dental students in this setting include improving communication between faculties and facilitating experiential contact. This might be achieved through initiating a common orientation session, stronger social networks and integrated learning activities, such as interprofessional problem-based learning and shared clinical experiences.

PubMed URL:

Ajjawi, Rola
Hyde, Sarah
Roberts, Chris
Nisbet, Gillian
Journal Citation: 
Medical Education. 43(3):238-45, 2009 Mar.