Oral Health Therapist Graduate Year Program (OHTGYP) - Program Guidelines

2. Objectives and Outcomes

Page last updated: 03 April 2013

The objective of the OHTGYP is to provide OHT graduates with a structured program for enhanced practice experience and professional development opportunities, whilst increasing workforce and service delivery capacity, particularly in the public sector.

The OHTGYP aims to facilitate recruitment into the public sector, or other recognised areas of need, and possibly enhance these sectors as longer term career options. This will enable OHT graduates to gain a broader range of experience and skills, with the service delivery benefits largely concentrated on those who depend on the public system for access to dental services.

Expected outcomes for the program include:

  • An increased dental workforce and service delivery capacity in the public sector including rural and remote areas, vulnerable population groups;
  • More competent, confident first year graduates;
  • Increased attractiveness of the public sector as a career for graduates;
  • Increased recruitment of graduates into the public sector and other areas of need;
  • Greater retention of dentists in the public sector;
  • Increased access to dental services for people who depend on the public sector and in rural and remote areas;
  • Reduced waiting times for public dental services;
  • Reduced preventable procedures and avoidable hospitalisations; and
  • Better oral health outcomes for vulnerable sub-groups.

The distribution of OHTGYP placements throughout Australia will be influenced by a variety of factors including jurisdictional and local capacity and resources, and advice from relevant stakeholders. There is a preference for providing services in areas of need, such as rural and regional areas, aged care settings, Indigenous settings and providing services to low socio-economic status communities, including children, which are experiencing long waiting times for public dental services.

Several jurisdictions already run or have developed some form of OHT graduate program. It is expected that the OHTGYP will build on these programs or complement them rather than replace or duplicate existing measures. Similarly, the OHTGYP is expected to support the employment of additional OHT graduates into the public sector rather than replace existing jurisdictional recruitment efforts.

The overall aim is to establish appropriate OHTGYP placements by 2014 to meet the objectives of the OHTGYP and achieve positive outcomes for participating OHT graduates, the oral health workforce and the broader community.

  • Benefits for participating OHT graduates include:
    • building on the skills, knowledge and experience gained through their undergraduate (or equivalent) training and access to opportunities beyond those available to other graduates;
    • a curriculum specifically developed for the program which is expected to support the continuation of the graduate’s professional development and offer continuing education and clinical opportunities, including potential rotations through a range of settings;
    • access to well-resourced placements, including through new infrastructure established specifically for the program;
    • additional support through oral health mentors and networks with other OHT graduate participants;
    • a certificate for the successful completion of the academic component of the program;
    • completing the program may be considered a valuable stepping stone in a range of career directions, including postgraduate study and hospital, public sector or private practice career structures (noting the OHTGYP is not a registration or future study or employment requirement); and
    • a $10,000 bonus payment on completion of their placement.
  • Benefits for the workforce include:
    • funding to enhance its infrastructure;
    • recruitment of a Commonwealth subsidised OHT workforce;
    • increased numbers of oral health graduates in the public sector, helping to increase workforce capacity and the provision of services and potentially helping address waiting lists and access to service issues; and
    • possible longer term retention of OHTs in the public sector or other areas of need as a result of experiences and enhanced practice opportunities gained in these areas through the program.
  • Benefits for the community include:
    • a timely and cost effective way of improving oral health sector capacity with an additional fifty new graduates per annum entering the public sector and other areas of need, helping to meet community needs;
    • individuals eligible for public dental services will benefit from increased access to services; and

earlier treatment as a result of increasing service delivery capacity may potentially help address waiting times and the need for more complex and costly services in the future.