Family is key motivator for international dentists, UK study finds

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Family is key motivator for international dentists, UK study finds

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A recent study of international dentists working in the UK has found that being actively approached by UK-based employers was their primary professional motivation. (Photograph: RossHelen/Shutterstock)

Fri. 24 August 2018

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PORTSMOUTH, UK: Over the past decade, the British dental workforce has grown increasingly international. By 2016, for example, 35 per cent of newly registered dental graduates in the UK were from abroad. The most common personal motivator for dentists moving to the UK for work, a new study has found, is family.

The study, conducted by researchers at King’s College London and the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, surveyed 38 dentists from 25 nations across Europe, South East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, the Western Pacific and the Americas who had qualified professionally outside of the UK, but had since relocated to work there. Though each dentist’s motivations varied, six broad categories were found:

  • for a better life and better pay;
  • to benefit from the UK’s excellence in postgraduate clinical training to enhance their career;
  • for travel and adventure;
  • to be commuters traveling back and forth between their home countries and the UK, where dual registration was allowed;
  • because a wife or husband had been recruited to another job in the UK; and
  • to be dentists in the UK working as dental care professionals, in dental trade, education or in a non-dental field.

The main professional motivation cited by participants was being actively approached by UK-based employers, including the NHS. The primary personal motivating factor was found to be family. This included situations in which the dentist’s spouse commenced work in the UK, existing family ties to the UK, and the opportunity to provide a better life for their children.

The results of the study were presented by Latha Davda, Clinical Director of the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, as a poster titled “Migration motives of international dental graduates to the United Kingdom” at the 96th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research, recently held in London in the UK.

“In the year when the NHS is celebrating its 70th anniversary, I am pleased that the contributions of the international dentists in the UK are being recognised,” Davda said. “Being an international dentist myself, it was amazing to learn about the different trajectories and experiences of these dentists who overcame so many barriers to work in the UK.”

“The UK is an established destination for dentists from abroad, with many dentists especially those from EU countries coming for a year or two and with some staying to work here for much longer. We were interested in what drives dentists to come here and want to stay working in the UK,” she explained.

Further research is currently being conducted on the experiences these international dentists have had integrating in the UK. The aim of this project is to ultimately help inform policies regarding training and retention of the British dental workforce.

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