knowledge project

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General dental practitioners’ knowledge encounters: a mixed methods study



How do dentists acquire their knowledge? On courses, in books, when reading journals? In fact, research suggests that healthcare workers acquire knowledge in practice from many different sources, many of which are not the formal ones we often concentrate on.

This research project is run by Dr Dominic Hurst as part of a DPhil research programme at the University of Oxford and will used a mixed methods approach to understand where and how dentists encounter knowledge.

 It will use a web form that dentists can access on their smart phones, tablets or computers to capture the encounters they have both day and night. Perhaps they sat down and took part in a forum discussion or a an exchange on twitter in the evening. Maybe they met with some colleagues at a branch BDA meeting and learned something new. They might have done a procedure in a particular way and realised it was more effective than the way they’d done it before. Or they might have read a research article or some guidelines.

Dentists will record in their own words what the knowledge encounter was. They’ll also say whether they sought the knowledge out or not. Finally they will be asked to describe the encounter using 6 different categories.

And it’ll follow these up by interviewing a sample of the participating dentists to try and understand more about how they viewed the encounters.

2 hours of verifiable CPD for dentists taking part

The GDC is keen to encourage dentists to reflect on their practice, learning needs and on their learning, and how they will apply this to their practice (see, for example, Post-consultation statement on CPD and Continuing Assurance of Fitness to Practise). As participants, dentists learn to use a structured means to reflect on what they encounter, which can cause them to ask more about what they do or fill knowledge gaps by planning additional learning.

Therefore all dentists who record a week’s worth of knowledge encounters and take part in the narrative interview that follows will be awarded 2 hours of verifiable CPD. The learning outcomes for the exercise are:

  • Participants will learn how to use a web-based tool to record and reflect on clinical knowledge encounters they have over the period of 1 week
  • They will reflect on what they intend to do with the new knowledge or experience in terms of using it conceptually, politically, instrumentally or not at all
  • Through a 1 hour narrative interview they will be encouraged to reflect on and analyse their encounters in greater depth

If you would like to know more about the research project or are a dentist in general practice who may be willing to act as a participant – please get in touch via the form below.

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