Korean J Med Educ.  2018 Sep;30(3):189-198. 10.3946/kjme.2018.93.

The dentist-scientist career pathway in Africa: opportunities and obstacles

Affiliations
  • 1Department of of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Faculty of Dentistry, University of the Western Cape, USA. henry.adeola@uct.ac.za
  • 2Division of Dermatology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, USA.
  • 3Division of Health Sciences Education, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Republic of South Africa.
  • 4Department of Oral Maxillo-Facial Surgery and Oral Pathology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
  • 5Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Abstract

The future of evidence-based dentistry in developing Africa heavily depends on a sustainable establishment of a vibrant dentist-scientist workforce. A dentist scientist is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out robust cutting edge research projects that are inspired by clinical experience. Currently, there are no pipelines in place to systematically train such dentists, neither are there programs in place to allow trained African dentists choose such a career pathway. A dentist-scientist is a person who studied oral, dental, maxillofacial (or craniofacial) diseases, prevention, and population sciences (obtaining a medical degrees such as bachelor of dental surgery [BDS] or BChD) alone; or in combination with other advanced degrees such as doctor of dental surgery (DDS)/doctor of philosophy (PhD) or BDS/PhD. This situation has resulted in overdependence of African clinical practice on research findings from technologically advanced Western countries and a decline in clinical research capacity building. The career path of a dentist-scientist should involve research along the spectrum of basic biomedical sciences, translational, clinical and public health sciences. There are several factors responsible for the ultra-low count of dentist-scientist in the heterogeneous African communities such as: poor biomedical research infrastructure; lack of funding; absence of structured dentist scientist career pathways; lack of personnel, inter alia. Hence, this review hopes to discuss the opportunities of setting up a dentist-scientist training pathway in Africa (as obtains in most developed world settings), identify opportunities and prospects of developing an African dentist-scientist workforce, and finally discuss the challenges involved.

Keyword

Dental education; Dental research; Africa; Career choice; Dentistry

MeSH Terms

Africa*
Capacity Building
Career Choice
Dental Research
Dentistry
Dentists
Education, Dental
Evidence-Based Dentistry
Financial Management
Hope
Humans
Philosophy
Public Health
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