The first-ever degree course in the UK aimed specifically at dental care professionals (DCPs) is being launched at the University of Kent’s Medway campus this autumn.
The BSc in Primary Dental Care is for qualified professionals such as dental nurses, hygienists and therapists, orthodontic therapists and clinical dental technicians.
It’s aim is to provide a method for DCPs to gain new skills and broader knowledge through better access to higher education.
This will include a flexible timetable for the degree programme, including weekend teaching sessions and an emphasis on work-based learning, means that dental staff will, for the first time, be able to combine their normal work duties with study for a Bachelors-level qualification.
The programme has been devised by the university in response to a drive by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery, the organisation that oversees post-graduate medical and dental education.
The degree will also play a major part in the continuous professional development (CPD) of staff.
As well as being professionally qualified, all students taking the course will be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).
Debbie Reed, course director for the new degree and lecturer in the University’s Division of Dentistry, said the profession was entering a new era of work-based education, leading to enhanced skills for DCPs and, ultimately, higher standards of patient care.
‘It’s exciting to be launching such an innovative new degree. The BSc is really about ‘whole team’ dentistry. This means that every member of the dental care team needs to keep up with
new practices and to show leadership, take responsibility and enhance the quality of patient care,’ she said.
‘The programme also seeks to equip dental care workers for longer and more rewarding careers, which will see more of them staying in the sector.
‘Through a mix of greater professional and academic development, including research
skills, we hope to keep people interested and motivated in their jobs for the long-term.’
Course modules include:
• lifelong learning
• critical appraisal of dental health publications
• diet and nutrition
• teamwork and management
• oral health education
• health promotion.
The study of international dental care practice, mentorship and various research projects are also available to students.
The BSc, which starts in September, can be studied for three years full-time, or for up to six years as a flexible learning programme.
The Division of Dentistry is based within the University of Kent’s Centre For Work and Learning.