Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Franklin García-Godoy


Dental competencies, perceptions, dental curriculum, dental students, acquisition, clinical skills


The Dominican healthcare system faces many challenges, and dental education is not an exception. The lack of competencies established for dentistry is one of the most critical challenges that dentistry faces. There is no way to guarantee that all dentists receive the same quality education with no standards and lack of competencies. Previous research has revealed that the competencies achieved by dental students determine the way such students develop their professional practice in the future as dental graduates (Alcota, De Gauna, & González, 2016). However, there is a lack of shared language observed in dental education around the world. Not all countries have determined a set of competencies to be taught within university dental schools.

Therefore, this study examines the perceptions of multiple stakeholder groups regarding the current curriculum used in dental schools within the Dominican Republic (DR), and how well it helps students acquire critical competencies and clinical skills. The research design was a quantitative approach using online and hard copy surveys and a convenience sample method. My respondents included 400 participants: 153 undergraduate dental students attending nine DR's universities, 108 dental graduates, 153 faculty members, and 42 industry professionals.

The 2008 "American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Competencies" were the primary guide for developing the surveys. ADEA Competencies were translated into Spanish and were used as part of the investigations. Other items from other countries' dental competencies and clinical skills were reviewed. Cronbach's alpha revealed internal validity: from 0.989 to 0.993. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, summary scores, a univariate ANOVA, and Multiple Linear Regression (MLR). Models with different sets of predictors were evaluated using model fit statistics.

This study revealed a general agreement between the four stakeholder groups regarding acquiring competencies and clinical skills by DR dental students. Dental student's overall average preparedness to practice dentistry effectively was fairly good (M=4.96, SD=1.07; on a 6.0 scale). Despite these findings, significant differences were found regarding the competencies, clinical skills, program components, and university participants' origin. There were several strong predictors of competencies and clinical skills acquisition. Regarding the students, the competencies predictors were: the clinical practices of Operative Dentistry, the predictors for Clinical Skills acquisition were related to the university, the clinical practices in Oral Surgery, and the preclinical courses of Prosthodontics. Regarding the practicing dentists, the predictors for competencies were: the preclinical courses of Dental Anatomy, Pediatric Dentistry, Endodontics, and the clinical practices of Oral Surgery, that were also predictors for clinical skills acquisition. Regarding the faculty, the predictors for competencies and clinical skills were: the clinical practices of Prosthodontics and Periodontics. Overall, the findings revealed that the university attended was a predictor for competency achievement. I suggest creating both a National Advisory Board for Dental Education, and a Board of Advisors at every dental school to provide feedback to improve preclinical and clinical courses. Several topics could be considered for additional research. It could be interesting to study the differences in competency achievement by the university attended, and faculty perspectives for improving student's competency achievement and DR dental education.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access