I was an examiner for the exit OSCE of our final year students. I was reading about patient-centered curriculum and wanted to know the perspective of the simulated patient at my station. “I don’t want to be treated by students. The last dentist I used to go, was a bit rough. The present one is an angel. The injection he gives is totally painless.” What if patients participated in our curriculum delivery and assessments. Will it make it more authentic?

‘Patient-centered medical education is about the patients, with the patients, and for the patients, to ensure current and future doctors remain sensitive to all of the needs of the people for whom they care.’Ref This is highly relevant to dental education.

The dental curriculum is usually designed by the teaching staff with input from past/current students, employers, public, and patients. The patients on whom the students practice their learning are an important stakeholder as the students/learners.

  1. The patients’ oral health is at the center.
    2. The students become professionals for the care of such patients only.

The Ladder of Patient Involvement describes 5 levels where patients are involved in developing learners into dentists. This blog tries to envisage a curriculum that is at level 5 – Partnership.

Partnership: ‘Service users, carers and teaching staff work together systematically and strategically across all areas – and this is underpinned by an explicit statement of partnership values. All key decisions made jointly. Service users and carers involved in the assessment of practice learning. Infrastructure funded and in place to provide induction, support and training to service users and carers. Service users and carers employed as lecturers on secure contracts, or long-term contracts established between programmes and independent service user or carer training groups. Positive steps made to encourage service users and carers to join in as participants in learning sessions even if they are not (yet) in a position to achieve qualifications.’

Partnership with Patients in Dental Curriculum



Consult and participate in developing learning outcomes.

The purpose and meaning of learning outcomes might not be understood by the patients.

The learning outcomes should be rephrased to patients understanding. This will assist in getting feedback if the outcomes are appropriate in patients’ perspective

Consult and participate in planning and delivery of learning activities

Patients might not have the required knowledge on learning theory and how students learn from these activities. Patients might not have the required qualification to participate in learning activities.

Patients can be invited to learning activities that are identified to be comprehensible. If the activities are not beneficial for the patients, they should be compensated for the time spent and feedback provided.

Patients are explained the purpose of learning activities and how it will achieve the intended objectives. Patients can then provide their feedback.

Consult and examine assessments of clinical learning

Patients need to be trained in examining students during their clinical learning, either as the treated patient or observing other patients being treated. Appropriate weightage of the patients’ assessments should be decided in consultation. Assessment of portfolios/case reports on patient management can be done by trained patients.


Patients are a valuable resource for clinical learning. Patient centeredness in a student friendly curriculum is the need of the day.

I write blogs on Curriculum topics that empower students in their learning journey. If you want to subscribe to email alerts for new content, click here. All blog posts available here.


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