The students hope that their research findings will contribute to informing strategies that address the maldistribution of dentists towards metropolitan and private practice through curriculum redesign and greater retention of graduate dentists in rural and public practice.
At the 2022 National Rural Health Conference, the students presented early evidence on the career choices and outcomes of the first eight cohorts of JCU BDS graduates since graduation. The biennial forum by the National Rural Health Alliance aims to inform and inspire our current and future remote health workforce.
“The National Rural Health Conference where we presented our findings allowed me to meet many different health professionals from all areas who are also passionate about rural and remote healthcare,” Holly says. “We were privileged enough to hear about their research and personal experiences and to form networks, which made the entire experience even more worthwhile.”
Ulrike adds, “The wonderful group of passionate and dedicated health professionals at the National Rural Health Conference working towards closing the rural health gap have motivated and inspired me to work rurally after graduation."
Holly says the findings have reaffirmed in her mind the inequities in the dental workforce in regional, rural, and remote Australia and furthered her interest in working in these settings.
“I was already interested in working rurally upon graduating and am the Senior Dentistry Representative for Club RHINO, so I was aware of some of these, but hearing the experiences from previous JCU BDS graduates has both further inspired me to continue this interest in my career and helped prepared me for the barriers I might face when entering the workforce,” Holly says.
As these students' research indicates, a major component of fostering a rural focus is through the Bachelor of Dental Surgery's capstone experience; two 18-week rural placements in the degree's final year. Read fifth-year student Sowmya Bolla's story, where she shares why her capstone experience in Mount Isa was so formative for her.