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Dental Non-Technical Skills (DeNTS) - Insights From a Course Participant

4 June 2024 6:02pm

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Good non-technical skills can improve clinical performance, training practices and patient management. DeNTS: Non-Technical Skills for Dentists is a new assessment tool for rating the non-technical skills of dentists and is the first of its kind. Participants are able to practice rating these skills using the new DeNTS taxonomy and can calibrate using DeNTS. Since its creation and launch the FDT has developed additional taxonomies to support the wider dental team including DNOT: Dental Nurse observation Tool and DNAT: Dental Nurse Assessment Tool.

80% of errors are made as a result poor human factors such as breakdowns in communication, the inability to reflect or poor situation awareness. In a global medical context these errors can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences. The Faculty of Dental Trainers understands the importance of human factors and non-technical skills in dentistry and the impact poor practice can have on patient safety. 

We caught up with Dr Gabriel Keng Yan Lee who attended our DeNTS course in May 2024 at the RCSEd for his insights on the global importance of this essential training tool.

Why did you travel from Singapore for the DeNTS course?

I first heard about DeNTS during the SEAADE 2023 conference in Singapore in November last year, and I thought what Dr Manton had shared could potentially close the teacher-trainee gap when discussing non-technical skills and pointers during clinical supervision/observation. I decided to attend the course in May and was delighted to hear that it was a train-the-trainer format, which would allow me to potentially adapt DeNTS to the Singapore context.

In what ways did the course meet your expectations? Were there any surprises or things you did not expect?

The course expounded on how DeNTS essentially served as an objective measure during feedback. This reduces the subjectiveness that at times confounds the feedback given. I was pleasantly surprised that there was strong interest during the course to utilise DeNTS as a marking scheme/grading rubric. While I did not expect that the current form of DeNTS could function as that, I am keen to see how one could be developed from this. 

Can you see any future applications of the DeNTS training and taxonomy in your national and local context?

Absolutely! Our undergraduate training programme consists of a behavioural science module that is situated mainly during the pre-clinical phase, as well as a primary care module that runs in the final year. These would be two opportunities to introduce DeNTS, or at least key principles of it, within our curriculum.

Would you recommend this course to others, and why?

Yes, I would highly recommend this course. I think it's a useful tool for dental educators - probably one of the first of its kind - to provide feedback in a structured manner. Unless one is already an expert communicator and able to translate that into their clinical teaching, DeNTS serves as a language for both trainer and trainee to conduct feedback. While there was mention of DeNTS yet to be tested and likely to be developed further, I'm looking forward to the new developments and I  hope that DeNTS will eventually be adopted by dental educators around the world.

Finally, what was your experience visiting the College and the city of Edinburgh?

I was there for only 30 hours, but I wish I had spent more time! The College staff were warm and welcoming, ready to share their recommendations and must-sees for a day tripper in Edinburgh. The city itself was unlike any other, and the early morning walk up Arthur's Seat was the icing on the cake for me!

For more information on DeNTS please view our brochure.