Staff shortage threatens training
 

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Staff shortage threatens training

 

Staff shortage threatens training

Dental schools fear a shortage of teaching staff will leave them struggling to cope with record increases in student numbers.
A new study by the Council of Heads and Deans of Dental Schools (CHDDS), which represents dental school heads, exposes staff shortages which threaten the quality of training.

The report, Clinical Academic Staffing Levels in UK Medical and Dental Schools, reveals the number of dentistry teachers across the UK rose by just 1% in 2005.

The tiny increase, following a record low in 2004, took the number of full-time equivalent clinical academics in UK dentistry to 493 – 7% lower than the total in 2003.

In England, teaching staff increased by 3%, while student entrants shot up by 25% from 674 to 848.

Staffing levels in the dental specialties of oral microbiology and oral radiology have reached a ‘critical situation’, the report found.

It said: ‘Despite the small increase in overall numbers between 2004 and 2005, the number of clinical academics in dentistry remains dangerously close to record low levels.

‘At the same time, as in medicine, the number of dental students is increasing and consequently the need for high quality teaching provision is greater than ever before.’

There are 23 vacant clinical academic positions in dentistry across the UK.

Ten of these are at senior level, with two vacant professorships and eight vacant clinical reader/senior lecturer positions. Thirteen clinical lecturer posts have yet to be filled.
The CHDDS warned that low levels of clinical lecturers, senior lecturers and professors ‘jeopardises current research initiatives and threatens the high quality of medical and dental education provision in the UK.’

Its report, which updates previous data on clinical academic staffing levels published last July, said: ‘It is vital to increase the number of individuals choosing to enter academic dentistry at clinical lecturer level, to replace those individuals moving onwards through the normal cycle of promotion and retirement.’

This year the government announced the creation of 100 new dental school places in addition to the ones announced in 2005.

The CHDDS welcomed the increase but said more clinical academics would be required to meet the educational needs of the new students.

Professor Nairn Wilson, CHDDS chairman, said: ‘The small increase in numbers is not anticipated to meet the educational needs of the increased number of dental students.

‘More needs to be done to make clinical academic dentistry an attractive career option for younger members of the profession.’

 Posted on : Mon 14th - Aug - 2006

 

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