Curriculum Setting and Pre-Clinical Dental Students' Stress Level

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Priya C Katwala
Swati Krishna Kulkarni
Nicholas M Guy
Salome Zangaladze
Aleksandra Zak
Isaac Z Stickney
Stacey Dubois
Yang Kang


Objectives: The first two years of Dental School are commonly known to be the most stressful in a student’s academic career. Very few studies, however, consider both the pressures of dental school and their causes. In order to understand the relationship between the curriculum and its stressful effects it has on the first (D1) and second-year (D2) dental students, a cross-sectional study was performed at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNE-CDM) during the fall and spring semesters of the 2015-2016 academic year. Methods: 64 D1 and 63 D2 dental students were asked to voluntarily complete an anonymous 27-question survey regarding demographic characteristics and the curriculum-related stressors. Researchers utilized the modified Dental Environment Scale (DES) to rate the stress levels. Results: This study revealed that the D2 students felt more stress than the D1 students overall. D2 students experienced more anxiety in their Spring semester of their second year. In general, students who lived with their immediate family felt less stress. Students twenty-five and over experienced less stress than their younger classmates. Conclusions: The study provided valuable information about the current structure of the curriculum at a newly established dental school. This study could provide insight into curriculum-related stress among pre-clinical dental students, which could guide dental schools in making curricular changes that help alleviate stressors during particularly stressful semesters. Furthermore, the outcomes of this project could provide dental schools the information necessary to develop student support programs to help balance students’ lives and intense course loads.


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Katwala, P., Kulkarni, S., Guy, N., Zangaladze, S., Zak, A., Stickney, I., Dubois, S., & Kang, Y. (2018). Curriculum Setting and Pre-Clinical Dental Students’ Stress Level. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 18(4).