Visiting Dental Therapist Training Programs in Canada, New Zealand and England
Lawmakers returned to St. Paul in January to an ambitious agenda dominated by budgetary challenges. Also of importance to all Minnesotans is proposed legislation that will determine the level of supervision, education, scope of practice and regulation of a new midlevel dental provider.
The discussion this year follows on the heels of legislation passed in 2008 that directed the Board of Dentistry to authorize a person to practice as a midlevel dental provider (no sooner than 2011). Supporters advocated that the legislation would improve access to care for Minnesota’s underserved communities. They cited, as models, the success of dental delivery systems in Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, where dental therapists are employed to provide primary dental services to children and adults.
Last July, School of Dentistry faculty traveled to Saskatchewan, Canada to visit the National School of Dental Therapy. A few months later, they headed for the oldest dental therapist training program in the world – the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. In September, they were off again to visit two dental therapist training programs in England, where there are 18 dental therapist training programs. All but two are based in dental schools. To read about what was learned at each visit, read more.