Dentists in India may be asked to stand in as doctors due to a shortage of healthcare professionals.
The government is considering the option of creating a bridge course so dentists can practise family medicine.
The Prime Minister Office has already given the idea the nod at the start of April.
‘Considering the BDS syllabus, course curriculum, methodology of developing clinical skills during the training pattern of examination, there is no doubt that graduates are completely trained for dental/oral comprehensive healthcare,’ Dibyendu Mazumdar, president of the Dental Council of India (DCI), said to Live Mint.
‘Large numbers of the dentist population available are taught basic medical subjects and dentistry.
‘Being a part of allopathy, it is the right time for the DCI to utilise human resources for dual purpose.
‘That is a health professional who is capable of extending dental as well as medical healthcare.
‘Also, utmost care is taken to bridge the training gap in theory and clinical exposure for a BDS level and MBBS level completely.’
The DCI is proposing a bridge course into medicine that will take three years to complete for dentists.
Only graduates recognised by the DCI will be accepted onto the bridge course.
According to the government, there is currently less than one doctor per 1,000 population in India.
‘This post BDS medical bridge course will train the dentist to avail the opportunities and be able to conduct professional requirements to provide medical healthcare as an additional skilled healthcare performance,’ Anil K Chandna, member of the DCI, said to Live Mint.
‘This course design is such that it takes care of socio-economical background, literacy ratio, aspect of poverty, pattern of disease, the changing lifestyle, health priority and access to general health as well as dental health.’
Critics of the scheme say it’s diverting the attention of dentists’ current role, reducing their time spent on dentistry.
India is also currently short of dentists, some are seeing this as shifting the problem from one place to another.
The Indian government is being encouraged to train more doctors and incentivise those who are trained to remain in the country, to fully solve the problem.