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Keywords:

  • education;
  • oral health;
  • population

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this paper is to discuss the training and development needs of those people who will form the next generation working in the field of population oral health.

Method

The paper represents the personal views of the author based upon an analysis of current training programmes in a number of countries and variation in the international working conditions.

Discussion

The next generation of population oral healthers will need to be versatile in their approach to the oral health problems they encounter. The simple problems may well have been solved or have stopped improving. The future generation will work in a variety of roles: commissioning and designing services, providing and evaluating services, educating or researching. The working environment will also show considerable variation and diversity from entirely private systems through mixed economies to public systems and, of course, no system at all. Current curricula vary but tends to emphasis traditional epidemiological and statistical skills as well as service delivery. There is also some evidence that training opportunities are limited to those with clinical backgrounds. Universities continue to emphasis high quality, high impact and high financial value research as they seek to maximize income and climb international league tables. National research funding bodies are seeking to address major issues such as global warming, food security and international security. Health research appears to have a number of foci: increasingly complex biomedical research, economic and effectiveness research and the complex questions around diseases of poverty and lifestyle. Access to funding will be increasingly competitive.

Conclusions

The next generation will need to access and understand an increasing range of disciplines using a wide range of transferable and political skills as they work across a diverse range of social situations and disease states. A key issue will be the requirement for them to be adaptable and flexible as they work to improve oral health.