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Open Access Research article

Student perception of two different simulation techniques in oral and maxillofacial surgery undergraduate training

Bodil Lund1*, Uno Fors2, Ronny Sejersen3, Eva-Lotta Sallnäs4 and Annika Rosén1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Department of Dental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden and Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

3 Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

4 School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:82  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-82

Published: 12 October 2011



Yearly surveys among the undergraduate students in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Karolinska Institutet have conveyed a wish for increased clinical training, and in particular, in surgical removal of mandibular third molars. Due to lack of resources, this kind of clinical supervision has so far not been possible to implement. One possible solution to this problem might be to introduce simulation into the curriculum. The purpose of this study was to investigate undergraduate students' perception of two different simulation methods for practicing clinical reasoning skills and technical skills in oral and maxillofacial surgery.


Forty-seven students participating in the oral and maxillofacial surgery course at Karolinska Institutet during their final year were included. Three different oral surgery patient cases were created in a Virtual Patient (VP) Simulation system (Web-SP) and used for training clinical reasoning. A mandibular third molar surgery simulator with tactile feedback, providing hands on training in the bone removal and tooth sectioning in third molar surgery, was also tested. A seminar was performed using the combination of these two simulators where students' perception of the two different simulation methods was assessed by means of a questionnaire.


The response rate was 91.5% (43/47). The students were positive to the VP cases, although they rated their possible improvement of clinical reasoning skills as moderate. The students' perception of improved technical skills after training in the mandibular third molar surgery simulator was rated high. The majority of the students agreed that both simulation techniques should be included in the curriculum and strongly agreed that it was a good idea to use the two simulators in concert. The importance of feedback from the senior experts during simulator training was emphasised.


The two tested simulation methods were well accepted and most students agreed that the future curriculum would benefit from permanent inclusion of these exercises, especially when used in combination. The results also stress the importance of teaching technical skills and clinical reasoning in concert.