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New research report published: 'Understanding and evaluating early career dental professionals'

By GDC | 25th June 2024 | News

GDC have published the findings of a comprehensive research study aimed at understanding the experiences, perceptions, and attitudes of early career dental professionals towards their regulatory body.

The research, commissioned by the GDC and conducted independently by SQW, shows that most early career dental professionals hold either a positive (44%) or neutral (30%) perception of the General Dental Council (GDC), with dental care professionals viewing the GDC more favourably than dentists.

The survey of 1,479 early career dental professionals revealed varying perceptions of the GDC among different dental professions. Dental nurses had the highest positive perceptions, with 59% viewing the GDC favourably. In contrast, dentists had the lowest positive perceptions at 22%. Additionally, dentists had the highest negative perceptions, with 52% of respondents expressing unfavourable views, significantly more than any other group.

The research shows that over time, dental professionals' perceptions of the GDC are more informed by their colleagues' views rather than their own experiences of the GDC, with individuals registered with the GDC for a longer period typically less positive in their perceptions.

On professional practice, the study found that GDC's regulatory activities had a positive impact on early career dental professionals, with just under two-thirds reporting a positive impact on their practice (43% positive and 21% very positive). However, this also varied by profession. Of the four largest registrant groups, over 70% of dental nurses, therapists, and hygienists reported a positive or very positive impact, while only 37% of dentists expressed this sentiment.

The research findings also give confidence in dental education, with a substantial majority (86%) of early career dental professionals saying they felt well-prepared for professional practice when first joining the GDC register, many attributing their readiness to comprehensive education and training. The highest percentages of dental professionals feeling well-prepared for practice upon initial registration were dental nurses (92%), dental therapists (87%) and dental hygienists (86%). The percentage of dentists feeling the same was slightly lower (74%).

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy, said:

"It's important for all dental professionals to understand and have confidence in the regulatory system in which they work - and even more so for people in the early years of their career. That understanding helps dental professionals be confident in their own practice and underpins patients' confidence in the care they receive.

"This research makes clear that there is still more to do to ensure that the regulatory system is transparent and effective and is seen positively by the dental professionals we regulate. The insights it provides will be invaluable in helping us do that more effectively."

You can find a summary of the key findings or download the full report on the GDC website.

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