An investigation of the attitudes and fears of vocational dental practitioners in England and wales in 2007

Jane A Willett, Nikolaus O A Palmer
Primary Dental Care: Journal of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners (UK) 2009, 16 (3): 103-10

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate whether recent changes in the National Health Service (NHS) dental contract may have caused increased anxiety and concern among vocational dental practitioners (VDPs).

METHOD: A total of 606 questionnaires, which had previously been piloted, were distributed to VDPs across England and Wales at the end of the vocational training (VT) year in 2007. The questionnaires contained a range of questions about VDPs' attitudes and fears, the influence that they perceived the new dental contract for the General Dental Services of the NHS had on their VT training experience, and their expectations for the future.

RESULTS: A 71% response rate was achieved. The results reflected changes in opinion about the dental profession among VDPs between when they applied for university and six years later on their completion of VT. During this period, they reported that their feelings of job security had declined from 93.1% (n=390) to 34.1% (n=145) and financial security from 94.8% (n=405) to 51.5% (n=219). Anxiety about the potential lack of funding in the NHS was felt by 77.6% (n=330). The effect of increasing numbers of dental graduates on employment prospects produced anxiety in 72.5% (n=305) of VDPs. On completion of VT, 19.4% (n=83) of VDPs did not have employment for the following year.

CONCLUSION: At present, the future is more uncertain for new dental graduates than in the past. The dental profession needs to become more aware of the pressures that graduates are facing and further research is needed to investigate them and the effects that they are having on the future of dentistry.


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