Hong Kong implements mandatory internships for dental graduates to foster professional development and enhance clinical competence

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21st April 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a recent legislative update, the Hong Kong Government has announced a significant amendment to the Dental Registration Ordinance, mandating a one-year internship for newly qualified dentists before they achieve full registration. This move aims to bridge the gap between academic learning and professional practice, enhancing the clinical readiness of local dentistry graduates.

Dr. Eunice Liu, a recent graduate from the University of Hong Kong’s Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme, is currently participating in a government-initiated mentorship scheme. “The exposure to a broad spectrum of clinical scenarios has been invaluable for applying my theoretical knowledge,” said Dr. Liu, who has been with the Department of Health for three months.

Similarly, Dr. Andy Sun, another recent graduate, noted the diverse challenges faced in different dental settings, particularly in treating bedbound patients. “Adjusting techniques to different patient positions is crucial and something we learn on the job,” he explained.

The internship programme will require graduates to rotate through various dental services within the Department of Health, such as general dentistry, community special dental service, and hospital dental units. Dr. Maggie Lau, Senior Dental Officer, highlighted the programme’s benefits, stating, “Rotating through different services not only prepares dentists for diverse future roles but also elevates the standards of patient care and safety.”

Dr. Rony Cho, Principal Dental Officer, added that the hands-on experience with seasoned professionals would empower new dentists to manage complex cases independently. “This adaptation is essential for maintaining high professional standards and ensuring patient safety,” he remarked.

The internship requirement will be implemented from the class of 2025 onwards, allowing current students to complete their studies under the existing guidelines. In parallel, the government is also exploring avenues to integrate qualified non-locally trained dentists and establish a statutory registration system for ancillary dental workers, further strengthening the local dental workforce.