Manual dexterity is the ability to effectively use your hands and fingers with precision.
It is an important skill to have in medicine, especially for surgeons who must be able to carry out delicate procedures. After all, a surgeon is only as good as their hands. For example, incorrect suturing (stitching up surgical incisions) can lead to improper healing and infection.
Manual dexterity is also important for dentists who carry out delicate dental procedures on a daily basis.
Manual dexterity is a topic that can come up at medical and dental interviews. For example, you might be asked why it is important for certain specialties and how you’ve acquired and improved it.
In a dental interview, you might even be asked to actively demonstrate your manual dexterity, for example, by using fine tweezers to transfer beads or bending a thin metal wire into a specific shape.
The University of Western Australia specifically requires its Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) applicants to undertake Manual Dexterity and Spatial Awareness Admission Tests.
Learn more about medical and dental school interviews.
This example shows careful reflection on manual dexterity and links it to medicine:
“I’ve gained manual dexterity through playing the violin from a young age. For the first six months, I could only produce a squeaky sound. However, I kept practising and my resilience paid off as I eventually became the concertmaster at my school orchestra four years later. I’ve come to learn that you can improve just about any skill with patience and diligence, and I will apply this lesson when I undertake clinical training.”
As society’s reliance on technology and automation grows, people are becoming less nimble with their hands. More and more students are typing their notes than writing them out. Experts have suggested that there is a decline in manual dexterity in medical students.
Hobbies are a more natural way to improve your manual dexterity:
Want to learn more? Read our overview of studying dentistry in Australia.