The NZDREX Clinical Examination is held three times a year at the University of Otago School
of Dentistry, Dunedin. It is an intensive exam held over 5 days with pressures equivalent to fifth
year graduation examinations.
The objective of the Clinical Examination is to determine whether you can plan, manage, deliver
and evaluate oral health care for individuals and communities. This includes determining whether you:
•can obtain and utilise patient information
•demonstrate competence in New Zealand’s preventive approach to oral health care for
individuals and the community
•are competent in a wide range of interventive strategies to manage oral disease and
•can assess the effectiveness of intervention.
The Clinical Examination has two sections. You must perform satisfactorily in Section A before
proceeding to Section B.
This is an objective, structured, clinical examination (OSCE). It tests theoretical and practical knowledge.
You will be asked to write brief answers to questions or perform tasks relating to clinical care.
You must be prepared to explain the scientific basis of clinical decisions.
You will be asked to reply to questions or perform a range of set tasks on clinical oral care.
Typical tasks take 10 minutes. The total examination time is 2 hours.
Questions and tasks may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, prescription writing, and problems of diagnosis and treatments, based on radiographs, photographs and study models.
You simulate a wide range of tasks and procedures using manikins in a clinical setting. There are 6 hours of operating over two halfdays. A dental assistant is provided.
Procedures may include operative, periodontal, paediatric, prosthodontic, endodontic or orthodontic tasks.
Examiners evaluate the way you perform the tasks and the final results.
You sit a clinical oral examination (viva voce) of approximately 30 minutes duration.
Examiners may ask questions on any aspects of general clinical practice. You must be
prepared to explain the scientific basis for your answers.
Assessment of Section A
Your performance in Section A is assessed at a formal examiners’ meeting. If you perform
satisfactorily in Section A, you proceed to Section B.
Section B consists of clinical work with patients. You will perform various clinical procedures for
patients. Some procedures are irreversible. The procedures will normally be completed in less
than 1 hour.
Section B is divided into the following components: Restorative Dentistry and Periodontology,
Exodontia and Local Analgesia, Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Oral Medicine and
Diagnosis and Communication Skills
Procedures tested may vary. However, they will normally include all of the following:
•Administration of analgesia
•Exodontia or minor oral surgery
•History, examination, problem solving and treatment planning for patients of different ages
and states of health
•Specific clinical procedures from the range expected of a general dental practitioner in New
During the Oral Medicine and Diagnosis component of the Clinical Examination candidates are
evaluated by additional examiners skilled in communication skills assessment. You are
expected to display the current Year 2 – 4 BDS (Otago) competencies.
Communication Skills Competencies
Candidates should have mastered a set of communication competencies that are basic to the
establishment of rapport with patients. The requirements are that a candidate should be able
1. Greet a patient warmly and introduce himself or herself confidently.
2. Attend to the patient’s comfort, for example to offer to hang up coats and hats, ensure the patient is seated comfortably, and minimise distractions.
3. Arrange the local environment so that it is appropriate for an interview, the patient in an
upright position, the candidate facing the patient at the same height, with due attention to personal space.
4. Use open-ended questions to obtain information, and provide feedback in the form of reflective responses to indicate that what the patient is saying is important.
5. Use non-verbal behaviour that demonstrates attentiveness and active listening.
6. Give uncomplicated information, using terms that the patient can understand.
7. Summarise for the patient the findings and accomplishment of the interaction.
8. Close the interaction in a warm and confident matter.
9. To elicit accurate medical and dental histories from patients.
10. To react appropriately during analgesic procedures so as to minimise clinician and
11. To demonstrate a skilled and caring approach to patients.
12. To show a professional interaction with colleagues and staff.
13. To understand the principles and practice of providing health advice and optimising client compliance.
The Clinical Examination is a test of overall clinical competence. It does not necessarily consist of “stand alone” examinations in each of the nine disciplines.
•Two examiners are present at all face to face encounters
•A letter grade (A to E) marking scale is used.
•Compensation may be allowed for marginal failures between sections of the examination.
•Final results are reviewed at an examiners’ meeting with a non-examining, DCNZ appointed
Examinations Director chairing the meeting.
•Observers, appointed by the Council, may be in attendance to observe the conduct of the
•D or E grades denote a lack of clinical competence or a lack of professional skills
considered potentially dangerous and /or unacceptable.
•Clinical Examination results are usually available within 1 week.
Partial Pass in the Clinical Examination
Candidates who display high levels of competence in some areas of the Clinical Examination may be recommended to re-sit only those parts that they failed. Given however that the Clinical Examination is a test of overall clinical competence this is the exception rather than the rule.
The components to be repeated will be determined by the examiners.
Withdrawal from the Clinical Examination Candidates who withdraw from the Clinical should do so as early as possible to allow the examination place to be offered to another candidate.
If you decide to withdraw and if the Dental Council is advised 0–6 days before the first day of the examination, the fee will not normally be refunded. In addition the withdrawal will be viewed as a failure of the Clinical Examination in terms of deciding the candidates priority for any future Clinical Examination applications. However, in exceptional circumstances such as severe illness or urgent domestic problems, the Dental Council may consider refunding part of the fee and/or maintaining the candidates correct priority placing. In this case, you must produce documented proof of the exceptional circumstances.
You are required to provide a current Hepatitis B & C status report including Hepatiitis B surface
antigen and antibody and Hepatitis C antibody. This report should be less than 6 months old at
the time of the Clinical Examination. Only the original, typed and signed results will be accepted.
The test must be carried out at a Telarc registered laboratory in New Zealand. If this is not
possible candidates for the Clinical will be tested on the familiarisation morning of the exam