Creating new pathways for dentists

April 21, 2024

To enhance the clinical experience in real-life work settings of local dentistry graduates, the Government has proposed amendments to the Dental Registration Ordinance, which include a new requirement, whereby the new graduates will need to undergo a one-year internship before obtaining full registration.


Applied knowledge

Dr Eunice Liu is just one of several newly recruited dentistry graduates taking part in the Government’s one-year mentorship programme. Having graduated from the University of Hong Kong’s Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme last year, Dr Liu said she was aware of the mentorship programme while at university.


Dr Liu has been working at the Department of Health for about three months and welcomed the chance to apply her theoretical knowledge through treating a wide range of cases.


“I have mainly been working in the government dental clinics for now. In our daily work, we need to handle a large number of clinical cases, including emergency cases, which helps me to gain more clinical exposure and also would be a great help to my professional development in the future.”


Dr Andy Sun also graduated last year and joined the department six months ago. He has been working across different areas, from oral maxillofacial surgery to public hospital dental units.


Dr Sun experienced various challenges, including how to provide dental care in different settings, such as to patients who are bedbound.


“Because the patient is lying on a bed rather than sitting in a dental chair, you have to adjust your angulation, like how to perform different kinds of treatment. For example, simple extraction or suturing.


“This is something that we have to adjust ourselves to, for the positioning especially, before we can provide the treatment.”


Comprehensive experience

As with the current mentorship programme the Department of Health is offering to the new recruits, the internships will require the graduates to rotate through different positions within the Department of Health or specified institutions, including general dentistry, community special dental service, school dental care service and hospital dental service.


Department of Health Senior Dental Officer Dr Maggie Lau highlighted the positive impact the internship programme would have on the graduates’ career development as they would have the opportunity to gain exposure to a real-life work setting.


“Under rotation to different dental services allows them to prepare themselves for their future career, such as specialised training.


“This contributes to the overall development of the Hong Kong dental profession, ensuring the professional standard and also the patients’ safety. This also allows new graduates to have a better understanding of the needs of citizens.”


Department of Health Principal Dental Officer Dr Rony Cho supplemented that through working with experienced qualified dentists, the graduates could learn how to handle complex and urgent cases independently.


He also noted that the proposed internship requirement would enable new dentists to better adapt to the practice in Hong Kong, thereby safeguarding patients' safety to a greater extent.


“However, considering that local dental students under the Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme about to graduate this summer have started to seek employment, the internship requirement will apply to the class of year 2025 and thereafter at the earliest.”


Talent acquisition

In addition to the one-year internship for local dental graduates, the Government has also proposed to introduce new pathways for admitting qualified non-locally trained dentists to practise in Hong Kong and put in place a statutory registration system for ancillary dental workers.

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