University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Dentist shortage: Department of Odontology ready to train more

Dentist shortage — The Minister of Higher Education and Research is considering increasing dentistry student admissions. But this requires more instructors at the Department of Odontology.

The  Department of Odontology at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) has been the object of cuts and layoffs for years. It was hit three times in a row in 2014-2015.

But now a recovery is in sight. The Danish Organization of Dentists in Private Practice has warned of a dentist shortfall in the outlying regions in Denmark, and according to the Head of Department Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen, the unemployment rate among newly graduated dentists is almost zero.

This has resulted in growing political pressure to train more dentists.

Not a UCPH decision

It is the ministry that determines the number of available places in the country’s two dentistry schools in Aarhus and Copenhagen.

With our present financial situation, there is no room for more students.

Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen, Head of Department

The Department of Odontology at UCPH cannot decide themselves to admit more students, but Christian Rabjerg Madsen (S), who was elected to parliament from the the Kolding constituency in Jutland, has asked the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Søren Pind (V), to report on admissions.

The Danish Health Authority recommends that approximately 130 dentists are trained every year.

147 graduated in 2015, 121 in 2016, and an average of 168 new students are admitted to the bachelor programmes in Aarhus and Copenhagen each year.

Would like to train more

Head of Department Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen says that a prognosis from the Danish Health Authority already recommended in 2013 to add another 10 students to the bachelor programmes, as many dentists are expected to retire in the coming years.

She also says that according to the professional organizations for dentists in private and in public sector practice, 160-170 dentists should be trained annually just to keep the status quo.

“If estimates say we should train more dentists, we would like to do so, but funding has to follow, as we will need to employ more instructors. And when the activity level increases, there will be a need to expand the number of hours our students can use clinical facilities. With our present financial situation, there is no room for more students,” says the head of department.

Bad business

Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen adds that it is bad business training dentists, as the so-called taxameter subsidy from government does not cover the actual expenses of running the programme.

It is necessary, but expensive, for example, for the department to operate its own clinic where students get the necessary clinical skills in meeting real patients.

Higher education and research minister Søren Pind (V) writes in his response that he will consider whether admissions should be adjusted when the Danish Health Authority has published its next prognosis at the turn of the year 2018/2019.