Background and objectives: Like many of our international colleagues, UK Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons are dually qualified. Whilst traditionally the pathway starts with dentistry and medicine as a second degree, the demographics of current UK Oral and Maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) trainees appears to be shifting towards a greater number of ‘medicine first, dentistry second’ applicants. Despite this, there is little evidence suggesting any increase in exposure or teaching at a medical undergraduate level. Our aim was to evaluate the awareness of OMFS as a specialty and potential career pathway amongst the medical undergraduate population.
Methods: An on-line survey was distributed to all medical undergraduates studying at two UK universities. Ethical approval for this study was granted.
Results: Two hundred and fifty three undergraduates, split between the 2 sites, responded to the survey, with 72.3% of undergraduates receiving no exposure to OMFS in any form. Those with exposure had an improved understanding of the scope of the specialty and were statistically more likely to recognize the major role of OMFS in the management of salivary gland disease ( p = 0.005), facial trauma ( p = 0.028) and neck lumps ( p = 0.005). Regardless of previous exposure to the specialty, only 27.7% correctly identified the essential requirements for entry in UK OMFS specialty training. However, the vast majority (76.7%) wanted more guidance on the possibility of pursuing a career in OMFS.
Conclusions: UK medical undergraduate exposure to OMFS is limited. However, even a limited level improves medical undergraduate awareness of the scope of conditions managed within OMFS. As a specialty it is encouraging to see that, although medical students do not fully understand the career pathway, they have a firm desire to explore OMFS as a potential career option. It is therefore of vital importance that undergraduate surgical curricula offer greater exposure to OMFS.
Key words: awareness; medical undergraduate; training