Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Overseas-Qualified Dentists' Experiences and Perceptions of the Australian Dental Council Assessment and Examination Process: The Importance of Support Structures

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Overseas-Qualified Dentists' Experiences and Perceptions of the Australian Dental Council Assessment and Examination Process: The Importance of Support Structures

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Australian Dental Council (ADC) is the independent national accreditation authority that oversees dental education and training in Australia. Since 1996, the ADC has been responsible for the assessment and examination of overseas-qualified dentists seeking to practise dentistry in Australia.1 It inherited this role from the Australian Dental Examining Council and Council of Overseas Professional Qualifications that had been involved in assessing overseas qualifications since 1977.1-4 The ADC has a well-established governance and management structure. The governing board includes members nominated from groups of concerned stakeholders: dental education providers, peak national bodies for dental professions, dental specialist education bodies and dental boards.1,5 In addition, a range of committees and working parties provides expert advice to support the governing board.1,5 Management of key operations is by a secretariat that includes a group of executives, managers, technical staff, project officers and administrative assistants.1,5 The ADC is registered under the Corporations Act 2001 as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.1 It operates from a national office based in Melbourne, Victoria.5

Currently, overseas-qualified dentists are examined by the ADC in four main steps: (1) initial assessment of qualifications; (2) an English language test; (3) a preliminary written test; and (4) a practical clinical test. During the initial assessment, all documentation regarding education and experience is verified to determine the level of further examination required.5 English language is mainly tested through the Occupational English Test (OET).5 (Note, since 2012, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) has also been used as an alternative English language test. Currently, candidates require a B level for the OET test and a minimum band of 7 in all IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking components.) The preliminary written test includes multiple choice questions and short answers that assess fundamental knowledge of dentistry and clinical and technical procedures relevant to current dental practice.5 The practical clinical test assesses the application of clinical skills and clinical judgement.5 The ADC has declared that these standards are set at a level of attainment of the knowledge, skills and professional attributes of a newly qualified graduate of an Australian dental school.5

Not all overseas-qualified dentists require this detailed assessment. Candidates with approved qualifications from universities in the UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Canada can by-pass the ADC's assessment and examination process and obtain direct registration to practice in Australia.6 (Dental graduates from Canada have been eligible for direct recognition of qualification and entry since March 2010.) Candidates from recognised dental programs in South Africa, Flong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the US are permitted to practice in the public sector, under supervision.5 (Variations in the public sector scheme exist. For example, a broader list of countries qualify for the scheme in New South Wales and Victoria.7,8 Nevertheless, detailed assessment is involved in selecting high-quality candidates.) It is possible that these candidates can by-pass the English language test (if their secondary and tertiary qualifications have been taught and assessed in English) and the preliminary written test.5,7,8 They can choose to complete the practical exam if they desire to work independently and in the private sector.5,7,8 Candidates enrolled in graduate clinical dental programs (Doctor of Clinical Dentistry, Master of Philosophy and Graduate Diploma in Clinical Dentistry) and those involved in teaching and/or research can be given limited registration for the duration of their program or contract.6 Overseas-qualified dentists engaged in a research degree (PhD) or research work can obtain a limited registration for clinical activity associated with that research. …

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