The government of Australia has announced plans to make it easier for dentists to practise dentistry, but some dental students have questioned the move, and a new Australian Dental Association has called for it to be scrapped.
The AMA wants the government to scrap the current requirement that dentists have at least a Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHMS) degree and a Bachelor in Public Health (BPH) degree.
AMA vice-president of public affairs and campaigns, Tony Scott, said the government had not listened to the dental profession and had given itself an “unfair” opportunity to act.
“Dentists have been in a position of being the frontline providers in many different communities across Australia,” he said.
Mr Scott said the current dental apprenticeship scheme was not adequate for the future. “
We don’t have a shortage of qualified staff, we’re not the only dental practice, and we have a long-term plan to recruit and retain more staff.”
Mr Scott said the current dental apprenticeship scheme was not adequate for the future.
“It’s not the best practice to have a dental apprenticeships in the future,” he told AAP.
“The plan that we’re currently putting forward is to look at making the apprenticeship a five-year degree and then to develop a postgraduate qualification.”
Dentists are not exempt from the dental apprentices scheme and must complete an apprenticeship.
Under the existing scheme, dentists working in community health and dental clinics are exempt from having to hold a BHMS degree and two years of apprenticeship, but dentists must complete a Bachelor and two-year apprenticeship and a two-course diploma.
The government said it would be working with dental students to improve the system.
AMA president and chief executive Paul O’Brien said the plan would “help dentists and dentistry students”.
He said the apprenticeships were a good idea and should be supported.
“If you’re going to invest in people and have them work, then you need to look after the people that are working in the community,” he was quoted as saying by ABC Radio National.
Mr O’Briens plans have been supported by the Australian Denture Council, which has received support from the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Dentistry Council of Australia and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons. “
They’re getting a degree that they don’t need, and that’s a big problem.”
Mr O’Briens plans have been supported by the Australian Denture Council, which has received support from the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Dentistry Council of Australia and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons.
Mr Scott told the ABC the plan was being reviewed.
“What we’re looking at is looking at the options and the opportunities that the future will have for people, and whether or not we can retain a community dental apprentices system that’s sustainable for the next 20 years,” he added.
The dental industry welcomed the change, but said it did not take away from the need for dental apprentices.
The College of Dentistry of Queensland said it welcomed the new apprenticeships, but also recognised the need to increase funding for dental programs.
“With the increase in demand for dental education, the future for dental training programs is extremely bright,” a spokeswoman said.