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01 Sep 2006 | eLABORATE

news > Spectrum > Page 9

Clinic helps students and patients smile

The Southbank Institute Denture Clinic, located on the Kangaroo Point campus in Brisbane, will allow Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics students to gain hands-on experience and at the same time help reduce the waiting lists for public dental patients.

The first 17 students in the advanced diploma program, all experienced and qualified dental technicians, began treating patients in mid-April, under the direct superivison of course co-ordinator, Dr Stan Walsh.

Dr Walsh, a dentist with more than 50 years' experience, said Southbank Institute's offering of the Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics would allow many dental technicians to update their skills.

"For many years, courses in dental prosthetics have only been available in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and New Zealand, making it virtually impossible for Queensland dental technicians to upgrade their skills," he explained.

"The dental technicians are gaining valuable hands-on treatment experience in the clinic, examining patients, creating the appropriate full or partial dentures and mouthguards and then fitting the prosthesis, all in a fully supervised environment."

Brisbane-based student Rod Lloyd, a dental technician with 30 years' experience and special expertise in chrome castings, is one of those students who has been waiting for a Queensland-based course. "I had applied to go to New Zealand but could not get in because they have a policy of accepting local students first," he said. "It's very easy to get laboratory-bound as a dental technical but I really wanted to learn about the clinical applications of the end product."

Mr Lloyd's thoughts are echoed by Sunshine Coast student Paul Coolican who travels from Coolum each week to attend classes at the clinic.

At the clinic's official opening, Dr Penny Slater, Queensland Health's Acting Director of Oral Health said the clinic and the training it provides will directly address a skills shortage in the dental profession.

"With 10,000 people on the waiting list for public dental treatment from Queensland Health, we will soon be recruiting more dental prosthetists to supplement the 150 dental technicians and five prosthetists on our staff.

"Graduates from this program will have the skills to assist many thousands of disadvantaged Queenslanders."

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