August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014



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Orthodontics

What is an orthodontist?


Orthodontists practise the branch of dentistry that deals with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing and mature dentofacial (pertaining to the mouth or jaw) structures. It includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception and treatment of all forms of misalignment of the teeth and associated alterations in their surrounding structures.25

How are orthodontists trained?


To be eligible to gain specialist registration with the DBA as an orthodontist, a person must be a qualified dentist, have a minimum of two years general dental practice experience, and complete an approved postgraduate programme of study in orthodontics. Currently there are six approved three-year Doctor of Clinical Dentistry in Orthodontics programmes in Australia, offered by James Cook University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, and the University of Western Australia.26

What is the assessment process for overseas-trained orthodontists?


An overseas-trained orthodontist 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 othodontist 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.27


What issues have stakeholders identified for the orthodontist workforce?


The Australian Society of Orthodontists Inc. noted demand for orthodontic services has steadily increased over time, due to factors including:

  • increased public awareness of orthodontics

  • increased treatment efficiencies

  • relatively reduced costs

  • provision of third party funding

  • an overall awareness of the importance of dental health and appearance.

It was noted the current supply of private sector orthodontists is sufficient to meet this demand, and specialist orthodontic services are widely available in most regions of Australia, including remote areas. It was also noted that there is current unmet demand for public orthodontic services.

Concerns about dental practitioners providing othodontic services outside of their scope of practice were raised due to quality and safety concerns. This was highlighted as in the past, orthodontic services have been supplemented by some general dentists and paediatric dentists undertaking simple orthodontic treatments. Short courses also exist in orthodontic treatments and procedures, which the Australian Society of Orthodontists Inc generally feel are insufficient.


Existing workforce position


The existing workforce position was determined from expert opinion from jurisdictions and the profession. A traffic light approach was used (as described in Appendix D). The orthodontist existing workforce position was assessed as white – current perceived excess supply.

Workforce characteristics


Orthodontics has the largest number of employed registered specialists of all the dental specialties, with approximately 500 orthodontist specialists in 2011 and 2012 (Table 22). Almost all orthodontists reported their primary role as a clinician, and approximately one in five were female. Orthodontists work close to standard full-time hours on average.

Table : Employed registered specialists: orthodontists, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012



Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

527

519

% clinician

96.4

96.2

% female

21.4

19.8

Average age

49.8

50.8

% over 55

36.3

40.2

Average working hours

38.3

37.1

Full-time equivalent

531

506

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012

The number and characteristics of employed dentists (both specialist and general dentists) who reported orthodontics as their principal area of work were similar to those of employed registered orthodontist specialists (Table 23).



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

Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

548

549

% clinician

94.8

94.3

% female

23.5

23.5

Average age

48.8

49.3

% over 55

35.0

38.2

Average working hours

38.1

37.5

Full-time equivalent

550

541

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012
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