A Multi-site Cross-Sectional Survey Exploring Medical Undergraduate Knowledge of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery



To evaluate medical student exposure to OMFS and knowledge of which clinical cases are appropriate to refer to the OMFS surgeon and the academic requirements to pursue a career in OMFS.


The investigators designed and distributed a cross-sectional survey to a cohort of current UK medical students. The primary outcome was medical student knowledge of the role of the OMFS, which was measured by their ability to correctly identify which cases were appropriate to refer to OMFS. Secondary outcomes included: identifying the proportion of students exposed to OMFS and the nature of this exposure; identifying student knowledge of the requirements to commence OMFS speciality training; and comparing knowledge of OMFS in those exposed to OMFS at medical school and those not exposed. The investigators hypothesised that undergraduates exposed to OMFS would have a greater understanding of the role of the OMFS and the requirements to pursue this speciality.


Of the 299 participants included in this study, 77.4% (230) had no exposure to OMFS at medical school. Overall, the students exposed to OMFS at medical school performed superiorly (mdn = 13) to the OMFS-naïve students (mdn = 13), z-score = 2.185, p = 0.03, in correctly identifying cases to refer to an OMFS surgeon. They also were more likely to correctly identify the requirement of core surgical training (CST) (p = 0.04, χ2 = 4.182) and membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (p = 0.02, χ2 = 9.879) as needed to begin OMFS speciality training.


Exposure to OMFS is still limited within the medical undergraduate curriculum, and this is reflected in poor knowledge of OMFS. An increase in the amount of contact with OMFS at an undergraduate level would not only help create greater interest in OMFS as a career but would help doctors of all specialities when exposed to OMFS.

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The authors would like to thank Laura Sandland-Taylor on her collaboration with this work.

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Correspondence to Katherine Harris.

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Appendix 1: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Awareness

Appendix 1: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Awareness

You are being invited to participate in a research study entitled ‘Medical Student Awareness of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery’. This study is being done by Katherine Harris and Christopher Jefferies from Hull York Medical School.

The purpose of this research study is to ascertain the level of exposure medical students have to oral and maxillofacial surgery and whether this is related to knowledge of this speciality. It will take an estimated 3 min to complete.

Your participation is voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. You are free to omit any question.

We believe there are no known risks with this study; however, as with any online-related activity, the risk of data breach is always possible. To the best of our ability, your answers will always remain anonymous. We will minimise any risks to breach of anonymity. Consent will be presumed by completion of the survey.

  1. 1.

    What is your gender?

    Male/Female/Other (please specify)

  2. 2.

    Which medical school do you attend?

  3. 3.

    Which year of medical school are you in?

    1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/Intercalating/Other (please specify)

  4. 4.

    Do you have a degree in dentistry?


  5. 5.

    What teaching or exposure to oral and maxillofacial surgery have you had at medical school?

    None/Teaching (ie lectures or seminars)/Placement/Student selected modules/No timetabled teaching, but exposure whilst on other placements (ie in A&E)

  6. 6.

    Which of the following are entry requirements to commence oral and maxillofacial speciality training (as a speciality registrar/ST3)?

    Medical degree (MBBS)/Dental degree (BDS/BChD)/Completion of foundation training/completion of core surgical training/MRCS (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons)

  7. 7.

    Which of the following could be appropriate to refer to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?

    Facial bone fractures/Oral mucosal disease/Orthodontic provision (braces)/Congenital facial deformity/Facial skin cancer/Toothache/Face and neck infections/Ear surgery/Restoration of teeth (fillings/crowns)/Aesthetic facial surgery/Denture provision/Salivary gland disease/Lacerations to the face and neck/Peritonsillar abscess (quinsy)/Tracheostomy provision/Tonsillitis/Laryngeal cancer/Oral cancer/Cleft lip and palate surgery/Nasal surgery

  8. 8.

    Describe oral and maxillofacial surgery in three words?

Thank you for participating in our study. For any questions, or should you wish to receive a copy of the study results, please email hykh6@hyms.ac.uk.

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Harris, K., Jefferies, C. A Multi-site Cross-Sectional Survey Exploring Medical Undergraduate Knowledge of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. J. Maxillofac. Oral Surg. 18, 623–627 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12663-018-1180-6

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  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Education
  • Undergraduate study
  • Medical school