Cavity in staff supply 1

January 30, 2004

Dental schools, like medical schools at UK universities, are struggling to recruit and retain teachers ("Lack of medical lecturers threatens NHS salvation", THES , January 16). This is against a backdrop of a shortage of dentists.

The reality is that the job of clinical dental teacher is unattractive. It takes a lot of training and the workload of teaching, research and clinical National Health Service provision has increased substantially.

The research assessment exercise has skewed dental schools' work towards research, but clinical teaching is essential to such a vocational subject.

Concerns about stewardship are raised when some universities allow dental clinical teachers to retire in their early 50s and then leave their posts unfilled. Elsewhere they are replaced by high-flying researchers. This may be good for improving an institution's RAE grade but not for dental students or the patients they will go on to treat.

John Drummond
Chair, Central Committee for Dental Academic Staff
British Dental Association

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