Dental Therapy in Western Australia: profile and perceptions of the workforce

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Background: In 2002, the Centre for Rural and Remote Oral Health (CRROH) completed a rural oral health workforce survey which indicated that a high number of therapists, although registered, were not working as therapists. The aim of the present study was to develop a profile of the dental therapy workforce and analyse the perceptions of therapists.Methods: In 2004, a postal questionnaire survey was undertaken amongst all registered dental and school dental therapists for 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.Results: Valid information was obtained from 253 therapists (55 per cent response rate). The therapy workforce are almost exclusively female, have an average age of 40 years, are working in urban areas, obtained their qualification on average 20 years ago, work for the School Dental Service and qualified in Western Australia. More than a quarter no longer worked as therapists. Perceptions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of dental therapy as a career were identified.Conclusions: When trying to promote dental therapy and school dental therapy as a career, retain therapists and recruit new graduates, the opportunities identified in this survey should be embraced. A clear focus on the issues will be required to facilitate meeting the workforce objectives as outlined in Australia's National Oral Health Plan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-10
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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