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31 Mar 2013 | Australasian Dental Practice

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New business study option for dentists

Post-Graduate Education

Dentists wishing to enter private practice and the world of small business ownership have always done so without the backing of any formal training. With the launch of a new course however, things are about to change.


A joint initiative of the ADA Queensland Branch and the Australian College of Dental Education (ACDE), a new program is now in place which will provide dentists with comprehensive training across all aspects of business, with the aim of fully preparing them for the trials of private dental practice.

With the vast majority of graduating dentists entering the private sector at some point in their career and the teaching universities in Australia and New Zealand providing little or no business training, the need for such a post-graduate course seems obvious enough. Indeed, anybody within the profession or industry will have heard the cry "but they don't teach us that at dental school".

While consulting companies, individual dentists and professional bodies variously run seminars and programs which address aspects of the business side of dentistry, they are sporadic in their timing and content. They also carry no requirement for assessment.

What sets this new course apart is that it is fully comprehensive, coursework is assessable and content is structured to provide successful students with a formal qualification to sit alongside their clinical degree.

The course is structured to allow dentists to complement full-time or part-time dental practice with part-time business study. One initial subject is now being offered, which will articulate as prior learning into a post-graduate program starting in 2014.

ACDE Principal Geoff Parkes said "for 2013, we will offer subjects as non-award, but in such a way that when the requisite course accreditation process is completed in 2014, successful students who wish to transfer into our Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or full MBA program will receive credit for subjects already completed".

"This flexibility is something that will likely appeal to prospective students - they will eventually be able to complete an MBA (Dental Practice), right down to undertaking individual subjects only, if they identify these as being of particular interest," Mr Parkes said.

Coursework for each subject is completed over a 13-week semester via a combination of e-learning and face-to-face seminar programs conducted by experienced dentists and industry professionals and business lecturers.

Assessment will be via satisfactory completion of a range of assignments, case studies and major projects. Whilst CPD credit will apply, the emphasis on assessment is in itself a major point of differentiation from most CPD inspired programs, which generally require attendance only. Course fees will be set at a level comparable to similar post-graduate business courses offered throughout Australia.

ADA Queensland has already forged an enviable reputation as a provider of high quality education to dentists and their teams, as CEO Paul Andrews highlights.

"Continuing education is a recurring focus for us and our courses attract dentists and staff from not only Queensland but all across Australia and New Zealand. We are delighted to now present business training to address an area of need which has existed for some time and is a source of frustration to many dentists," he said.

Their partner in this venture, ACDE, is a new organization formed specifically for the purpose of providing this level of post-graduate business study.

"The idea of being able to deliver a comprehensive suite of subjects which cover all business aspects of private practice dentistry such as marketing, human resources, accounting, practice operation, IT and so on is one that we are very passionate about,", said ACDE principal Dr Brad Wright.

"This is an opportunity for young and not so young dentists to step off the cycle of receiving conflicting information via seminars, the internet and Chinese whispers passed along from colleagues, mixed in with a lot of guesswork and trial and error," he said.

"Private dental practice is an increasingly competitive and difficult proposition and really, anybody who is currently in practice or intends to be in practice in the future, should be considering formal business education to ensure that their practices operate as efficiently and profitably as possible from the beginning."

Expressions of interest are now being received from dentists interested in taking the first subject, "Dental Practice; Operations and Business Management" for which teaching will commence in the 2nd half of this 2013.

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