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Delinquent dentists - Scores practising dentistry without valid certificates

Published:Friday | October 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Shanice Robert, a fourth-year doctor of medical dentistry student at the University of Technology, performs a flouride treatment on a child.

A large number of dentists across the island are operating without valid practising certificates, as there is nothing in place to protect the public from those who might not be fit to operate.

A Sunday Gleaner probe has revealed that of the almost 250 dentists operating in Jamaica, a little more than half (140) have paid the $20,000 fee for the biennial renewal of their dental certificates and submitted mandatory proof that they have attended the compulsory continuing education classes.

The fee was due on March 31, but, seven months later, many members of the dental fraternity have not paid up or provided proof of attending continuing education classes.

This has prompted the Dental Council of Jamaica, which had the first meeting of its new executive last Wednesday, to offer a two-week amnesty to delinquents.

Chief Dental Officer for Jamaica Dr Irving McKenzie told The Sunday Gleaner that there are various reasons why some dentists might have not renewed their practising certificates, hence, the reason for the amnesty.

"You have a possibility of some persons not being in the island. You have persons who may not have done any continuing education programme. You may have persons who have done everything but may just be negligent and you have those who may not know how to use the system," said McKenzie.

"It (the amnesty) is hoped to be advertised soon and the amnesty is going to be for two weeks. After that there is going to be serious consequences," said McKenzie.

"The council can either apply stiffer sanctions and penalties or like in the United States when people allow their thing to go overboard, in some jurisdiction they have been asked to rewrite the examination. The council is thinking about its options, but it is not going to be a let off. Trust me. It is going to be something very serious," added McKenzie

He said the current situation is of significant concern to the Dental Council as the practising certificates are not just to state that individuals are practising, but it is tied to continuing education which speaks to the quality assurance and persons upgrading themselves.

This is to ensure that dentists operating in Jamaica are keeping abreast of the terms of their professionalism and practice.


Outdated register

But even more importantly, the list of current practising certificate holders is the only viable record that the Council has to inform the public of legitimate dental practitioners, as the Register of Dentists, which should be available to the public, is in need of serious overhaul.

"The Register of Dentists has been here for as long as dentists have been practising in Jamaica, and when I look at it, you have records that go straight back to the 1900s. Therefore, there are persons on the register who are deceased and persons who have migrated or left the profession," said McKenzie.

"Therefore, when you are talking about providing Jamaica with an updated list of all the persons who have registered, to use the register as is may not be so informative because it needs to be cleaned.

"So the best indicator should be the listing of all those who have paid up their practising certificates and that should give us a clear indication of all those who are currently legally entitled to practice dentistry in Jamaica, because the law says you should not practice without a current practising certificate."