|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 185-186
Immigration of the dental workforce: Changing global trends
Shishir Ram Shetty1, Sura Ali Ahmed Fuoad Al-Bayati2, Mohammed Said Hamed3, Hossam Abdelatty Eid Abdelmagyd4, Walid Shaaban Elsayed5
1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
2 Department of Oral Medicine, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
3 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
4 Department of Periodontics, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
5 Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
|Date of Web Publication||23-May-2019|
Shishir Ram Shetty
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, College of Dentistry, Gulf Medical University, Ajman
United Arab Emirates
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Shetty SR, Fuoad Al-Bayati SA, Hamed MS, Eid Abdelmagyd HA, Elsayed WS. Immigration of the dental workforce: Changing global trends. Educ Health 2018;31:185-6
Immigration is one of the most debated topics in the current global scenario. Among other reasons, political instability and internal conflicts existing in many African and Middle Eastern countries have not only caused large-scale emigration of people but also many skilled health personnel including dentists. However, immigrant dentists to any country, in particular to the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, trying to enroll in a graduate program is challenging. For example, in Australia, only one-quarter of 1000 international immigrant dentist examination takers manage to pass the Australian Dental Council examinations, while in New Zealand, according to a survey by Ayers in 2008, the New Zealand Dental Registration Examination was very difficult to pass and the majority of applicants required more than one attempt to pass the examination.
The migration of dentists can cause problems in the “host” as well as the “source” countries. Host countries can face an ethical dilemma of contributing to the brain drain, while simultaneously at the risk of restricting opportunities for indigenously trained dentists, current dentists, and future dental students. The source countries can have several problems such as losing their educational investment made on the dentist who migrated and the possibility of facing a shortage of dentists in economically backward and inaccessible areas. The source as well as the host countries may require the development of policies to set the balance right in these areas. A primary solution will require intense coordination between the local governments and international bodies such as the World Health Organization and Federation Dentaire Internationale (FDI) to plan the production and distribution of the optimal dental workforce.
Balasubramanian et al. in 2015 mentioned three important factors for effective policy-making in managing the migration of dentists to make it beneficial for both the “host” and the “source” countries; these include workforce surveillance, research evidence, and political advocacy. The workforce surveillance includes not only collecting and maintaining information on dentist qualifications and licensing examination data but also understanding the demographic characteristics and geographic distribution of migrant dentists which aids in balancing the demand supply pattern. Research evidence includes collection of qualitative data (reasons for migration, settling experiences in a new country) and quantitative data (surveys on migrant dentists and analysis of workforce surveillance data collections). Political advocacy implies developing a nodal agency for dentist migration issues, a role which could possibly be taken up by global organizations like the FDI. Another possible solution to the problem could be the promotion of “dental tourism” where patients from abroad visit a country for relatively inexpensive dental treatment rather than domestic dentists migrating to work abroad. Countries such as Mexico, India, Thailand, and Hungary stand the chance of beneficiaries of dental tourism due to cheaper prices and abundant workforce.
In conclusion, the immigration issue of dentists is a complex process that needs a long-term analysis and solution with the aid of global agencies.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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