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Australian Dental Association calls on government to review dental workforce

Careers and University, Dentistry

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has written to the Minister for Education Hon. Christopher Pyne, asking the government to review Australia’s dental workforce. Following complaints from dental graduates with respect to the job market and monitoring the jobs market, the ADA “is convinced that the dental workforce is saturated and the lack of availability of employment will only get worse.”The ADA and Australian Dental Students Association held a live Twitter chat with the hashtag #dentalcrisis recently to raise awareness about this issue.

The Australian Dental Association has identified 5 main issues with the dental workforce, and has come up with 3 solutions.

Issues:

  1. Increase in the number of students who are graduating every year from the Australian universities.
  2. Changes to the rules around international student visas, which now all these students to stay and work in Australia.
  3. Growth in the number of dentists entering the nation through temporary or permanent migratory means.
  4. Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA) with New Zealand, resulting in the “back door” method of entry by overseas dentists.
  5. Increase in the number of trainings for allied dental practitioners.

Apart from the increase in new graduates from existing universities, there has also been increase in the number of universities that offer dental courses. In Australia in 2007 there were 193 dental graduates, and in 2014 there are projected to be 620.

Solutions:

  1. To discontinue the demand model (where there are no limits on the number of students dental schools can have in their intake) that exists in current dental programs’ student placements.
  2. Canceling of the legislation that allows dental students to stay and work in Australia after completion of their course; and
  3. Controlling immigration of dentists.

The Australian Dental Association believes that dental graduates who are unable to find a job in a dental practice will have difficulty seeking another employment opportunity as their skill set does not translate well to other areas.

Image credit:  William Yeung – flickr

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