Undergraduate student experience in dental service delivery in rural South Australia: an analysis of costs and benefits.

L. Richards*, B. Symon, D. Burrow, A. Chartier, G. Misan, D. Wilkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Rural experience for dental students can provide valuable clinical education, change attitudes to rural practice, and make a valuable contribution to clinical service provision. The aim of this paper is to assess the costs and benefits of service delivery by students through rural training programmes. METHODS: Groups of two students worked in the public dental clinics in adjacent rural centres where there had been long-term difficulties in recruiting staff. The costs and benefits of the programme were assessed by the impact on waiting lists, the total cost per patient of a course of care and by the marginal cost of adding service provision by students to existing arrangements. RESULTS: The total costs of emergency and complete treatment provided by students were greater than the costs of treatment provided by public-sector dentists but less than the costs of private providers treating public patients. However, the value of services were greater when care was provided by students or private providers and the marginal cost of students providing services was 50-70 per cent of the cost of care provided by public dentists. CONCLUSION: This assessment suggests that the service benefits achieved compliment the primary objective of influencing the attitude of students to rural practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-258
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • rural health
  • dentistry
  • students


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