Dental Education Australia

How Professional Formalities Can Crush Dreams and Potential

As a person interested in architecture myself, I was curious about what my foreign friend, who hailed from Costa Rica and is currently about to enter her final year of architectural studies in the Philippines, planned to do after her graduation. Apparently, she had been taking French classes because she planned to practice in France. Being one of her closest friends, I was taken aback at her sudden decision to depart. “Why not practice in Manila?” I asked. “Because your country won’t let me!” she hissed.

A few days ago, I came across an article about a 46-year old dentist who has practiced for 16 years in South Africa and in the United Kingdom. Six years ago, he decided to move to Canada, where he spent his time working in 12-hour shifts. His new life prompted him to take on an occupation that had nothing to do with dentistry, and everything to do with cab driving. Jayanth Manilall was denied permission to practice as a dentist in Canada, despite being fully-equipped to do so, forcing him to work as a cab driver instead.

Currently, Canada only recognizes dental credentials from the US, as well as recent graduates from New Zealand and Australia. Dental Surgeons from other parts of the world must undergo the qualification procedures that are administered by the National Dental Examining Board. It wasn't until 2010 when the process was changed. Back then, qualification meant taking a series of exams that cost thousands of dollars each.

Dentists who got their licenses in foreign countries and yet passed their NDEB exams, still had to apply for two-year programmes at dental schools in Canada, which only opened up too few spots for the hopeful. If a foreign dentist is lucky enough to land a spot, the pocket damage would be around $100,000, which is not ideal for immigrants who are already at professional career levels and may, at that stage, already have to provide for their families. The 2010 protocol changes introduced the elimination of the two-year dental program. However still, less than 20% of applicants deem successful.

My very talented friend had previously studied in one of the best schools in Costa Rica before coming to the Philippines. I thought it was sad-bordering-on-stupid how Manila would lose the opportunity to cultivate a great architect because of formalities. In the same way, it was sad that Jayanth Manilall’s capabilities and passion to help people medically has been suppressed for six years now (and counting) just because of restrictions and difference in standards, which are not accurate testaments of how good a dental professional is at his job or how much he can do for his current country of residence.
While I do believe that hastily letting dentists of foreign training jump straight into practice is risky and quite frankly ludicrous, I believe that such systems should be streamlined to accommodate potential brilliant minds. We never know, these brilliant minds that formalities pass up on may eventually make a significant impact in the development of the local dental industry.

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