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Keywords:

  • continuing education;
  • dental education;
  • postgraduate;
  • dental

Abstract

Introduction

Ongoing professional education is essential for dental professionals to maintain and update their clinical skills and knowledge. There is a current trend towards mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for dentists within Europe and beyond. Mandatory CPD will ensure high professional standards and enable mobilisation of the dental workforce within Europe. In 2002, the UK General Dental Council (GDC) implemented a system of mandatory CPD for dentists practicing in the UK. The Wales Deanery is situated in the School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education, Cardiff University. It provides verifiable CPD courses for dentists and dental care professionals (DCPs) currently practicing in Wales and has recorded professionals' attendance on these courses since 2001. The project aimed to investigate the CPD activity of dentists in Wales, using these data.

Methods

The Wales Deanery database holds data on the CPD courses undertaken by 1178 dentists working in Wales since 2001. A number of hypotheses were investigated using a variety of statistical methods.

Results

Dentists were undertaking significantly fewer hours of CPD in Mid and West Wales compared to the North and South of the principality. Sole practitioners were found to engage in less CPD than those in group practices, but these differences did not reach statistical significance. Dentists who employed a hygienist or therapist completed more hours of CPD than those who didn't employ either. There were no gender differences in engagement in CPD. CPD participation was consistently and significantly higher in mid and late career than in early career.

Conclusions

This study provides a greater understanding of the CPD habits of the dental workforce in Wales. Practice staffing levels, location of practice and time since graduation were found to have the greatest impact on engagement in CPD activity. These findings will be used by the Deanery to inform future education provision for dental professionals in Wales.