Dental stu­dents shown cold shoul­der in Ja­maica

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

IFOUND Carolyn Cooper’s ar­ti­cle in the pa­per on November 6, 2016 quite in­for­ma­tive and in­ter­est­ing. In ad­di­tion to the valid con­cerns raised, I also have a con­cern, as I am left to won­der if the Dental As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica (dom­i­nated by den­tists from the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy) is aware that the Univer­sity of the West Indies-funded dental school in Trinidad is the only ac­cred­ited school in our re­gion.

I make this re­mark be­cause Ja­maican stu­dents who study there (some on govern­ment sub­sidy) and do one full year of su­per­vised in­tern­ship by a com­pe­tent se­nior den­tist/lec­turer af­ter re­ceiv­ing their de­gree. They are not al­lowed to reg­is­ter with them au­to­mat­i­cally when they re­turn to Ja­maica. Yet they can freely reg­is­ter in Trinidad and work – hence quite a large num­ber of na­tion­als have opted not to re­turn. This does not hap­pen to med­i­cal doctors, vet­eri­nar­i­ans, lawyers and en­gi­neers trained at the other UWI cam­puses.

These stu­dents, if they try to re­turn home, are asked to sit an Amer­i­can set exam be­fore they are deemed fit to prac­tise in Ja­maica. I am not aware of any other sov­er­eign Caribbean state that al­lows a for­eign group to de­cide which pro­fes­sional can be reg­is­tered to work within its own bor­ders. This is gross dere­lic­tion of duty by the Dental As­so­ci­a­tion. Are we to as­sume there are no com­pe­tent mem­bers in this group why they need the for­eign man to di­rect them?


The exam is not cheap ei­ther, as they make a for­tune off the Ja­maicans. The sum of US$2,090 (J$270,000) has to be paid to ADEX (CDCA), the Amer­i­can ex­am­in­ers, and J$20,000 to UTech to use its fa­cil­ity. The stu­dents have to find and pay two pa­tients to be present for their exam, plus do all their prep work, in­clud­ing ex­pen­sive X-rays and sub­se­quent pro­ce­dures for free.

For a stu­dent, in fact any­one, this is a lot of money. Three to four years ago, the then prime min­is­ter, along with the then min­is­ter of health, Fen­ton Fer­gu­son, a den­tist, had got the Dental Coun­cil to drop this un­nec­es­sary re­quire­ment. Why, and with whose per­mis­sion in the health min­istry (as they nor­mally have a mem­ber on the coun­cil), was it re­in­stated?

We are short of well-trained den­tists, yet we find ev­ery way to block these poor young pro­fes­sion­als from re­turn­ing to work in the land of their birth. Is it pos­si­ble to in­ves­ti­gate? MIL­TON MACK mil­ton­mack55@out­

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