The staff’s perception of level of clinical competence of graduating dental students amid COVID-19: A qualitative research in one Saudi dental school

La percepción del personal sobre el nivel de competencia clínica de los estudiantes de odontología que se gradúan en medio de COVID-19: una investigación cualitativa en una escuela de odontología de Arabia Saudita


The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on dental education and assessment. This study focuses on the changes made to the delivery of teaching, assessment, and clinical competence of the final year students enrolled on the dentistry programme of the Faculty of Dental , Qassim University during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Material and methods

This is a full qualitative study that uses semi-structured interviews to focus on the faculty members of one dental school in Saudi Arabia. The online interviews were performed using Zoom platform. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Themes were gathered and grouped into emerging topics. Purposive sampling method was adopted and continued until data saturation was achieved.


The change to online delivery of teaching proved to be a good solution for the cohort immediately affected by COVID, however, the online delivery of teaching placed significant amount of added pressure on faculty members. The work-life boundaries blurred and most staff complaint of long hours of working, mostly into the late evening. Despite the fact that the COVID graduating cohort achieved less clinical experience compared to typical graduates, a useful agreement between the University and college allowed newly graduated dentists to focus on the areas of low experience during their first rotation of their internship.


Despite COVID's challenges and lockdowns and its effect on teaching and assessment, staff believed that students were graduating at a safe beginner level. With mitigating strategies in place, the newly graduated dentists achieved the same amount of experience as a typical graduate but over a slightly prolonged span of time.

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