August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014



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Public health dentistry (community dentistry)

What is a specialist in public health dentistry?


A public health, or community, dentist is one who is concerned with the oral health education of the public, applied dental research and administration of dental care programmes including prevention and control of oral diseases on a community basis.37

How are specialists in public health dentistry trained?


There are no currently approved programmes of study to train specialists in public health dentistry in Australia. Dentists wishing to register as specialists in public health dentistry will have their applications evaluated by the DBA on a case-by-case basis.

What is the assessment process for overseas-trained specialists in public health dentistry?


Most overseas-trained dental specialists need to have their specialist qualification assessed as substantially equivalent to an approved qualification for the specialty. However there is no approved qualification for public health dentistry in Australia. Therefore, an overseas-trained specialist in public health dentistry would have their application referred to a committee of the DBA with the requisite expertise and experience to be able to assess the overseas specialist qualification.

In addition, 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.38


What issues have stakeholders identified for the specialist in public health dentistry workforce?


No specific issues were highlighted by stakeholders for the public health dentistry workforce.

Workforce characteristics


There are a small number of registered specialists in public health dentistry in Australia (Table 30). Reflecting the nature of their specialty, which is concerned with education and research, specialists in public health dentistry have the lowest percentage of clinicians of all dental specialties. They also have one of the older age profiles – with an average age of 53.8 years and over half aged 55 years or over in 2012. However due to the small workforce numbers, care should be taken when interpreting these figures.

Table : Employed registered specialists: specialists in public health dentistry, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012



Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

10

12

% clinician

20.2

25.4

% female

30.6

32.5

Average age

55.5

53.8

% over 55

68.6

58.5

Average working hours

40.7

34.0

Full-time equivalent

11

11

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012

Substantially more dentists (general dentists and specialists) reported their principal area of main job in public health dentistry (Table ) compared with the number of public health dentist specialists (Table 30). This difference impacted on the characteristics of the workforce, with a substantially higher percentage working as clinicians, an increase in the percentage of females, and a reduction in the age profile and average weekly hours worked of dentists working in public health dentistry, compared with the registered specialist workforce.



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

Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

234

371

% clinician

73.3

82.6

% female

47.6

54.0

Average age

47.4

45.0

% over 55

32.5

30.3

Average working hours

37.3

35.4

Full-time equivalent

230

346

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012
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