December 2007

Volume 24, Issue 4

The working practices and career satisfaction of dental therapists in New Zealand

Authors: K.M.S. Ayers A. Meldrum W.M. Thomson J.T. Newton
doi:

Abstract

Objective To describe the working practices and level of career satisfaction of dental therapists in New Zealand. Design Postal survey of dental therapists identified from the New Zealand Dental Council’s dental therapy database. One mailing with one follow-up. Participants Questionnaires were sent to 683 registered dental therapists. Replies were received from 566 (82.9%). Outcome measures Current working practice, career breaks, continuing education, career satisfaction. Results Respondents had a high career satisfaction, but were much less satisfied with their remuneration. After controlling for age and income satisfaction, therapists who felt that they were valued members of the dental community had over four times the odds of having higher overall job satisfaction. There were no differences in the mean career satisfaction scale score by age, but respondents aged 45 and over had a lower mean income satisfaction scale score than their younger counterparts (p<0.05). Older respondents were more likely to report regularly placing fissure sealants (p<0.05), participating in peer review (p<0.05), and playing a role in team management/coordination (p<0.05) than younger respondents. Most therapists (412; 82.2%) had taken at least one career break, usually for child rearing. A mean of 6.5 years (SD 5.9; range six weeks to 25 years) had been taken in career breaks. Younger therapists were more interested in moving into private practice than their older colleagues (p<0.05). More than half of respondents planned to retire from dental therapy within 10 years. Conclusion Urgent action is required to improve the recruitment and retention of dental therapists in the New Zealand School Dental Service. Measures to reduce the time taken in career breaks could increase the productivity of this workforce. Remuneration and career progression are key issues; therapists need to feel that they are valued members of the dental profession. Key words: Career satisfaction, dental auxiliaries, dental therapists, workforce

£10 single article

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Editorial - The STROBE initiative and its implications for dental public health research 194-197 £10 single article
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Assessment of the reliability and validity of the Dental Neglect Scale in Norwegian adults 247-252 £10 single article
Determinants of ECC in Sardinian preschool children 253-256 £10 single article
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BASCD Presidential Address - BASCD SPRING SCIENTIFIC MEETING 268-270 £10 single article

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