New Zealand Delegation
The School of Dentistry led a 12-member delegation of Minnesota dental educators, dental professionals and regulatory agency representatives to New Zealand June 21-August 6 to visit the dental therapist training program at the University of Otago in Dunedin.
Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and home to the only dental school in New Zealand. The school was founded in 1907, and offers programs in dental therapy, dental hygiene and dental technology. The delegation, which included School of Dentistry Dean Patrick Lloyd, met with representatives of the University of Otago's program to learn about the school's education facilities to judge the impact of the New Zealand health care system on programming, and to encourage professional partnerships and collaboration, among other goals.
In New Zealand, oral health care is provided freely to children until they are 18. To the age of 13, children are seen in public schools by dental therapists; after the age 13, children are treated in private dental practices. Adults are seen as fee-for-service patients in private dental clinics.
This historic meeting was part of a series of international site visits to recognized dental therapist training programs and follows a visit to First Nations University in Prince Albert, Canada, in May. At the end of September, the delegation will travel to the United Kingdom, visiting the Eastman Dental Hospital in London and the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield.
In spring, 2008, the Minnesota legislature authorized licensure of a midlevel dental provider (no sooner than 2011). The visits are in anticipation of the dental school’s participation on a state-convened workgroup that will develop parameters for the level of supervision, education, scope of practice and licensure of these new professionals, as well as in preparation for the dental school’s launch of a mid-level provider training program scheduled for fall, 2009.