All dental students will have to repeat a year as Coronavirus has disrupted training
By: Olivia Salisbury
'Dentist at work' by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
The Scottish Government has announced that all dentistry students in Scotland will have to repeat the 2020/21 academic year, following the recommendation of Scotland’s dental schools.
The decision was made following an assessment where students’ clinical experience was concluded to be insufficient for General Dental Council registration and safe practice.
Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says this extra year is about ‘getting dental students the experience that has been denied them’ and to ensure those studying dentistry can ‘enter the profession as confident, fully qualified clinicians.’
Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), the specific clinical experience dental students currently lack, had to be restricted due to the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 through the release of airborne particles.
Speaking to The Gaudie, a dental student who asked to remain anonymous shared their thoughts on the matter, stating: “It is frustrating, but I can understand why it has been decided.” They added that “this extra year is reassuring considering how much we have missed” and thought it would provide time to “consolidate our learning, hopefully in a more practical environment.”
Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Professor Phil Taylor, said he understands and supports the decision made by Scotland’s dental schools. He added: “Patient safety is always at the forefront of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s actions and so the decision supports our efforts in this respect”.
Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Public Health Minister, acknowledged that the decision would be ‘extremely disappointing’ for dentistry students and said: “The Scottish Government is doing all we can to support them.”
However, it has emerged that final year dental students at Aberdeen University will not qualify for the extra bursary scheme of up to £6,750, which has led to the British Dental Association writing an open letter to the Freeman and Deputy First Minister John Swinney asking for ‘urgent clarification’.
"We would hope this is an administrative oversight that will be immediately rectified. If it is not, it will signal a two-tier approach that will protect some students from a mountain of debt, but not others”, stated the letter.
In response to the extra bursary scheme, National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland President Matt Crilly, said: “Students have to pay astronomical fees, so it is only right they should be compensated”.
Graduation for Aberdeen final year dental students will be deferred until Christmas 2021, as opposed to Dundee and Glasgow students whose graduations will take place in summer 2022.