The recent report by Global Burden of Disease 2015 emphasised that oral health has not improved in the last 25 years. Despite the advances in health, oral conditions still presents as public health challenges across the globe. This can be further substantiated by the fact that untreated oral conditions have drastically increased from 2.5 billion in 1990 to 3.5 billion in 2015.
India has been contributing to improvement in global health with persistent efforts in the entire front and providing an efficient/effective/well trained workforce of dental professionals. India has a total of 309 dental colleges with more than 26,000 graduates obtaining a dental degree each year. Along with this, Indian Dental Care service market is estimated to touch a double digit growth rate (20-30%) and reach upto US $2.2 billion by the year 2020.
Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) is an undergraduate course in the field of dentistry. The prime focus is to train the professionals in identification of oral conditions and providing promotive, preventive and curative services efficiently. It is a full time course and spans over a period of five years (four years academic training and one year of mandatory internship). The detailed and patient-oriented curriculum enables a team of expert dental professionals who can further contribute to betterment of the country.
What comes next?
The dynamics of pursuing a career after a dental degree have changed significantly with a plethora of new and exciting options. The following list tries to sensitise the budding dental professionals to all the fields available in which they can pursue their careers.
1. Practice: If getting long term investments and stability is the focus, then setting up your own practice is the best choice. Scope depends on the practitioners and location, but gestational period and return on investments should be kept in mind. Remember, there might be lag in the beginning but there will be a hike when you get good at it.
2. Employed under hospitals or clinics : Working under a hospital (government or private as a Junior Residents) or a clinic (as an Associate Dentist) requires low investments and risk. Dentists draws a fixed salary or percentage-based incentives.
3. Master’s degree: If you want to pursue a Master’s in Dental Surgery (MDS) to be a specialist in one field, you can choose from multiple fields according to your interest and choice. Here are specialities in which a Master’s programme is provided in India:
- Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
- Oral Medicine and Radiology
- Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge
- Oral Pathology and Microbiology
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Public Health Dentistry
4. Master’s in public Health (MPH) or Diploma in Public Health: MPH has recently gained popularity among the dental professionals as a career option. There is a huge demand for professionals who has public-health oriented thinking and strives to eliminate the disease through lifestyle modification and primary prevention.
A MPH degree is provided in most universities abroad and some colleges in India (like Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Institute of Clinical Research India, Indian Institute of Public Health). After the degree, the MPH professionals are easily absorbed in national surveys and national projects or pursue their public health career as a public health nurse, epidemiologist and so on.
5. Master in Health Administration (MHA) or MBA in Hospital Management: Hospital administration deals with the management of hospitals as a business. A hospital administrator is the one who hires staff, coordinates business functions or business aspects and deals with external vendors. After completing the MHA or MBA in hospital management, a professional can pursue a career as district quality managers in government organisations or National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) coordinators in medical or dental colleges.
6. Research Associates/ Junior Research Fellows/ Senior Research Fellows/ Scientist in government organisations or projects in pharmacy companies (Pharmacovigilance): Dental professionals with an appetite in research can work as research associates or research fellows in short term government projects and further work in dental colleges in the public health dentistry department.
7. Data Scientist in Big Data industry: The term ‘Big Data’ refers to all the health data that is being generated across the globe at an unprecedented rate. This health data could be either structured or unstructured. There is huge potential as a career in Big Data which can be pursued after BDS. Apache Hadoop, Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence are some of the important courses in Big Data in which careers can be made.
8. Others: Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) or international agencies, medical coding industry or medical writing industry, jobs in health care multi-national companies (MNCs)
The writer is the principal of Manav Rachna Dental College.