August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014



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How are dentists trained?


A person must successfully complete an approved programme of study and gain registration with the DBA to become a dentist.

There are currently nine approved programmes of study provided by Australian universities that lead to registration as a dentist3. Most of these are five-year bachelor degrees or four-year postgraduate degrees.


What is the assessment process for overseas-trained dentists?


The assessment of overseas-trained dentists is conducted by the Australian Dental Council (ADC), through the assessment of professional documents, experience and written and practical examinations. Applicants who completed their general dentistry qualifications from approved universities in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Canada may not be required to sit the ADC examinations. Applicants must also meet English language requirements.4

What issues have stakeholders identified for the dentist workforce?


In terms of workforce supply, while it was generally agreed there is excess supply of dentists compared with existing service demand, the distribution of the dental workforce was a primary concern, specifically:

  • there are problems recruiting dentists to regional areas

  • regional areas are often reliant on dentists working in the private sector

  • most dentists working in the private sector, and there are extended waiting times for dental treatment in the public sector.

Other factors highlighted as potentially influencing future workforce supply were a trend towards earlier retirement, and possible changes to the training curriculum which could include increased course duration.

The variation in current scopes of practice for the oral health workforce across jurisdictions was another concern highlighted by stakeholders – specifically that it results in the overlapping of professions.


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 dentist existing workforce position was assessed as white – current perceived excess supply.

Workforce characteristics


In 2012, there were 12,767 practising dentists who reported their primary role as a clinician, an increase of six per cent (or 705 dentists) from 2011. Characteristics of those dentists were similar in 2011 and 2012, with:

  • Approximately one-third female

  • An average age of 43 years

  • Average working hours of 37 hours per week (Table 9).

Table : Employed clinician dentists, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012

Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

12,062

12,767

% female

35.0

36.5

Average age

43.1

43.1

% over 55

22.1

22.7

Average working hours

37.4

37.1

Full-time equivalent

11,885

12,477

Source: National Health Workforce Dataset: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012

Workforce inflows

Graduates


The number of graduates from courses leading to registration as a dentist more than doubled from 2007 (192 graduates) to 2012 (552 graduates) (Figure 1).

Figure : Number of graduates of courses leading to registration as a dentist, 2007 to 2012

Source: Department of Education 2007 to 2011 and Australian Council of Dental Schools 2012

Migration


The number of permanent visas granted to dentists and dental specialists (who had not previously held a visa permitting them to work in Australia) has generally increased from 2007 to 2012 – reaching a peak of 124 visa grants in 2010 (Figure 2).

Figure : Number of permanent visa grants to dental practitioners (with no previous working visa), 2007 to 2012

Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Temporary visas granted to dentists and dental specialists increased by 34 per cent (45 dentists) from 2007 to 2012 (Figure 3). Between these two years, the highest number of temporary visas granted was in 2008 (180 visas).

Figure : Number of temporary visa grants to dental practitioners, 2007 to 2012

Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection


Dental specialties

Dental-maxillofacial radiology

What is a dental-maxillofacial radiologist?


Dental-maxillofacial radiologists work in the branch of dentistry that deals with diagnostic imaging procedures applicable to the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (jaws and face) region, and to other structures that are relevant for the proper assessment of oral conditions.5 Specialists in dental-maxillofacial radiology may also use the titles Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist or Dental Radiologist.

How are dental-maxillofacial radiologists trained?


To be eligible to gain specialist registration with the DBA as a dental maxillofacial radiologist, 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 dental-maxillofacial radiology. Currently, the only approved programme of study is a three-year Doctor of Clinical Dentistry in Dento-Maxillofacial Radiology offered by the University of Queensland.6

What is the assessment process for overseas-trained dental-maxillofacial radiologists?


An overseas-trained dental-maxillofacial radiologist 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 dental-maxillofacial radiologist specialist 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.7


What issues have stakeholders identified for the dental-maxillofacial radiologist workforce?


No specific issues were highlighted by stakeholders for the dental-maxillofacial radiologist workforce.

Workforce characteristics


Table shows there are very few registered dental-maxillofacial radiology specialists in Australia. Although there were changes in the characteristics of dental-maxillofacial radiology specialists from 2011 to 2012, care should be taken when interpreting these figures due to the small number of specialists.

Table : Employed registered specialists: dental-maxillofacial radiologists, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012



Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

8

7

% clinician

64.3

85.9

% female

23.8

n.p.

Average age

46.4

50.3

% over 55

35.7

43.8

Average working hours

38.5

39.1

Full-time equivalent

9

7

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

Table shows the total number of employed dentists (including specialists and general dentists) who reported dental-maxillofacial radiology as their principal area of work. Across both years, approximately two-thirds of dentists working in dental-maxillofacial radiology were clinicians, and approximately one-quarter were female.



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

Workforce characteristic

2011

2012

Number

18

14

% clinician

67.9

64.9

% female

25.4

28.3

Average age

48.6

53.7

% over 55

38.0

43.3

Average working hours

39.9

34.8

Full-time equivalent

19

13

Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012
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