Preparing for Rural Practice: Exploring JCU dental students’ perceived preparedness following dental simulated emergency medical training (DSEMT)

Kalen Chao1, Hanin Musbah1, Israel Needham1, Patricia Tan1, Stephanie Wong1, Felicity Croker2, Luke Croker2

1Year 4 Bachelor of Dental Surgery Students at James Cook University; researchers




Increasing medical advancements coincide with increased life expectancy, leading to an aging population with a higher proportion of medically compromised patients. As rural and remote areas tend to have fewer resources and personnel, dental professionals must be capable of pre-empting, adequately identifying, and managing patients experiencing both medical and dental emergencies.

What is happening in your project/health service/or what has been your experience

While effective management of medical emergencies is a requirement of the Professional Competencies for a Newly Graduated Dentist, studies suggest that many dentists upon graduation do not feel adequately prepared for managing real life medical emergencies, which likely reflects a discrepancy in the course curriculum. As such, it is crucial to ensure a curriculum which best prepares students to manage clinical emergency situations. James Cook University (JCU) aims to amend this disparity through dental simulated emergency medical training (DSEMT) sessions. These are provided to students in their clinical years in small groups by emergency trained nurses, who simulate patients experiencing medical emergencies in a dental setting.

This research aims to explore the perceptions of fourth and fifth year JCU Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) students on their level of preparedness in identifying and managing medical emergencies in a clinical setting, following a DSEMT program.


This paper will analyse students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of DSEMT through data collected from written surveys and focus groups. This research will also compare the differences in perception between fourth and fifth year students who have experienced different clinical settings. It will provide evidence-based research that may contribute to future dental emergency medical training for undergraduate dental curriculum, to allow for more competent dental graduates.


Felicity Croker (PhD; B.Ed (Hons1), RN, RM.

Felicity is a Senior Lecturer in Dentistry at JCU who is passionate about growing socially accountable health professionals who are ‘fit for purpose’ for regional and remote practice. She is actively involved in applied research on rural oral health, domestic violence, and graduate preparedness for rural practice. Felicity has initiated and established work integrated placements for students. With the first dental cohort graduating in 2013, Felicity has evaluated four years of final year students’ intentions and the impact of rural and remote experiences on graduate destinations.