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J Public Health Dent. 2010 Spring;70(2):131-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2009.00153.x.

Factors associated with the recruitment and retention of dentists in the public sector.

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Cooperative Research Centre for Oral Health Science, Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



There is an increasing demand for public dental services in Australia, with many community dental clinics unable to meet this demand because of an inadequate number of dentists in the workforce. The aim of this study was to identify factors contributing to the recruitment and retention of dentists in the public sector.


A postal questionnaire survey of 180 dentists (response rate 75.6 percent) working in the Victorian public sector was undertaken to investigate the characteristics of public sector dentists, job satisfaction, remuneration, perceptions of public dentistry, future career intentions, and issues that relate to recruitment and retention of staff.


Victorian public dentists' main reason for entering the public sector was to work in a community-based setting in a supportive and mentored environment. The main factors related to dentists leaving the public sector were poor remuneration, lack of clinical experience, and frustration with administrative policies. Victoria's oral health workforce shortages in the public sector are mainly attributed to retention issues. The potential for mentoring and a desire for helping those in need were factors attracting dentists to work in the public sector.


There was a disproportionate number of female dentists in the public sector compared with the general population, and female dentists had a lower mean salary than male dentists regardless of experience. A range of factors were associated with retention, and gradual frustration because of poor remuneration and lack of professional autonomy were significant reasons for the decision to leave the public sector.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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