Specialist Project powering ahead

The Dental Board and Dental Council are working out the rules for specialists on both sides of the Tasman.
The Dental Board and Dental Council are working out the rules for specialists on both sides of the Tasman.

The Dental Board of Australia and Dental Council of New Zealand have released a joint communiqué announcing their partnership in the Specialist Project, which is designed is to develop a framework for specialist registration and a list of competencies for the recognised dental specialties in Australia and New Zealand. This will be done in close consultation with relevant specialist organisations and education providers.

“Developing the framework and competencies documents in collaboration with the Dental Council is imperative in light of the Trans-Tasman mutual recognition that enables registration between Australia and New Zealand.  It also supports the DBA and Dental Council’s commitment to work together, where possible, on shared regulatory matters,” the release says.

“The documents developed in this project will be used in both jurisdictions, as relevant, to help establish standards for specialist registration, noting that there are some differences between the two jurisdictions’ lists of recognised specialties.”

The pathway for specialist registration in Australia is in accordance with section 58 of the National Law. The qualifications needed for specialist registration in Australia are an approved program of study for the specialty (referred to as an ‘approved qualification’) or another qualification that the DBA considers to be “substantially equivalent, or based on similar competencies, to an approved qualification for the specialty”.

Specialist registration in New Zealand is available to those with prescribed specialist qualifications; or where the qualification is not prescribed by either assessing the qualifications to determine whether they can be considered as “equivalent to, or as satisfactory as” a prescribed qualification, or by sitting specialist examinations. Competencies underpin the curriculum of prescribed qualifications, and are therefore key in setting the educational standard required for registration in a scope of practice.

It is the DBA and Dental Council’s role to set the minimum standards that all applicants must meet and the competencies documents will provide part of DBA’s and Dental Council’s registration framework.

In addition, it is important that the framework and competencies are recorded in a consistent way across the specialties so that they are easy to understand and the commonalities and differences between specialties are clear. This information also needs to be easily accessible and the DBA and Dental Council will publish the final documents on their respective websites.

The communiqué also says that t he competencies documents will provide one part of the broader framework.  The purpose of the framework and the competencies is to clarify the minimum standards, education and training required for dental specialists who want to register to practise in Australia and New Zealand.  The framework and competencies will be used in a range of contexts including:

  • accrediting specialist programs of study
  • assessing qualifications for specialist registration in Australia and New Zealand
  • assessing overseas qualified dental specialists toward specialist registration in Australia and New Zealand, and
  • evaluating the competence or otherwise of dental specialists in the context of regulatory processes.

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