INTRODUCTION: A high degree of training is necessary to prepare student nurses for their roles as oral healthcare partners that can promote a holistic approach to health in the community. This study aims to determine the extent of oral health education in Australian and Malaysian nursing institutions, as well as investigate educators' perceptions of education and practice in this area of care.
METHODOLOGY: An audio-recorded, semi-structured qualitative phone interview was conducted with the heads of 42 nursing schools across Australia (n = 35) and Malaysia (n = 7) during the 2015 academic year. Qualitative data were analysed via thematic analysis. Quantitative data, wherever appropriate, were measured for frequencies.
RESULTS: The response rate was 34.2% (n = 12) and 71.4% (n = 5) for the Australian and Malaysian subjects, respectively. Findings revealed that although all the nursing schools measured provided didactic and clinical training in oral health, curriculum content, expected learning outcomes, amount of clinical exposure and assessment approach lacked consistency. Most nursing educators across both countries perceived an overloaded curriculum as a barrier to providing oral health education. Whilst educators demonstrated their support for training in this area of care, they expressed the need for an established national guideline that highlights the educational requirement for future nurses in oral health maintenance and their scope of practice.
CONCLUSION: This study provides valuable information for further developing oral health education for nurses, to improve their competency and ultimately the health of the communities that they will serve.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.