Preparation for practice – The Australian Dental Council

Preparation for practice

Overview

The accreditation of education and training programs leading to registration as a dental practitioner is a core function of the work of the ADC. This process aims to ensure graduates of accredited dental programs are equipped to practice safely and ethically. It also contributes to the achievement of several objectives under the Health Practitioner National Regulation Law.

To strengthen the understanding of the outcomes of the accreditation process we commissioned The University of Melbourne to undertake a research project titled Preparation for practice of newly qualified dental practitioners in Australia.

The research aimed to increase the understanding of the extent to which accredited programs prepare dental practitioners for practice. It focused specifically on programs producing graduates eligible to apply for registration as a dentist, dental hygienist, dental therapist, oral health therapist, or dental prosthetist.

The project was completed in two stages using a mixed method approach. The initial phase involved the creation of a theoretical framework of preparedness for practice areas and priorities. The second phase involved the collection of qualitative and quantitative data from a wide range of stakeholders, including current students, recent graduates, dental professionals and dental consumers.

Findings from the research indicate that overall graduates from Australian programs are prepared to practise safely at the point of graduation. The research explored areas in which graduates are well prepared as well as areas in which improvements could be made.

Next steps

The outcomes from this research are being used to inform other projects and other areas of work. The most notable project is the 2021 review of the professional competencies of the newly qualified dental practitioner. Findings from the research helped identify key areas for review and were incorporated into the revised competencies, which were presented for public consultation in late 2021.

We will continue to use the findings from the research as a reference point for the organisation’s ongoing work in program accreditation. This includes ongoing reviews into the Standards as well as our program accreditation policies.