Hong Kong dentists are worried about the worsening brain drain of dentistry newbies as the government is planning to require a compulsory service period for young dental graduates before they can register to be a dentist.
It is learned that the government would revise the Dentists Registration Ordinance to respond to the object of the Policy Address issued last year to ensure the supply of healthcare workforce, to ask local dental graduates to serve in public or designated healthcare institutions for one-year “internship” before being a qualified professional. Dentists-to-be who are not under the Specialist Register may face a longer mandatory service period of more than two years.
Industry veterans were concerned that the regulations would undermine the intention of local young students to choose dentist jobs.
“It is reasonable that the government wished to ensure sufficient manpower in public medical services, ” said Dr. Nelson Wong Chi-wai, President of the Hong Kong Dental Association, in a radio program today.
“But Hong Kong dental students already need to finish a six-year- academic-train and undergo multiple practices when they are in schools; a longer ‘internship’ may affect their career expectations,” he said.
“The new requirements would affect the young generation’s willingness to be dentists as we need to spend too much time before being licensed,” said a dental undergraduate who would like to have the name concealed in the University of Hong Kong.
According to the statistics of the Dental Council of Hong Kong, there are currently 2,700 dentists across the city. A total of 65 vacancies for dentists were recorded among all the 50 dental clinics under the Department of health by last October, marking a vacancy rate of 22.3 percent.