August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014



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Oral pathology

What is oral pathology?


Oral pathology is the branch of dental practice that deals with diseases of the teeth, jaws, oral soft tissues and associated structures – examining their cause, development and effect, and establishing diagnoses.19

How are oral pathologists trained?


Completion of an approved qualification in dentistry and a postgraduate qualification in oral pathology, in addition to a minimum of two years general dental practice, are required to gain specialist registration with the DBA as an oral pathologist.

Currently, there are three approved three-year Doctor of Clinical Dentistry in Oral Pathology programmes in Australia, offered by the University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia.20 The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia also offers an accredited five-year Fellowship programme.21


What is the assessment process for overseas-trained oral pathologists?


An overseas-trained oral pathologist must have their specialist qualification assessed as substantially equivalent to an approved qualification for the specialty. The ADC review and make recommendations about overseas-trained oral pathologist applications to the DBA.

In addition to having their specialist qualification assessed as substantially equivalent, the DBA’s Specialist Registration Standard requires specialist registration applicants to have completed a minimum of two years general dental practice in addition to meeting all other requirements for general registration as a dentist. The general practice requirement may be achieved by experience outside Australia, subject to assessment and approval by the DBA.22


What issues have stakeholders identified for the oral pathologist workforce?


No specific issues were highlighted by stakeholders for the oral pathologist workforce.

Workforce characteristics


Table 18 shows there are very few registered oral pathology specialists in Australia. Therefore care should be taken when interpreting these figures due to the small number of specialists.

Table : Employed registered specialists: oral pathologists, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012



Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

4

6

% clinician

26.8

66.8

% female

n.p.

n.p.

Average age

50.7

51.9

% over 55

51.3

50.9

Average working hours

36.0

45.0

Fill-time equivalent

4

7

n.p. not publishable
Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012

Consistent with the low number of registered oral pathology specialists, there were also few dentists (including specialists) reporting their principal area of main job as oral pathology (Table 19).



Table : Employed dentists (including specialists): principal area of main job reported as oral pathology, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012

Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

12

14

% clinician

17.3

31.3

% female

19.2

8.9

Average age

43.1

50.0

% over 55

8.6

30.5

Average working hours

34.3

39.8

Full-time equivalent

11

14

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012
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