The work experiences of a cohort of New Zealand oral health therapists
Choi, Yunsun Jane
Although only working in New Zealand communities since 2008, oral health therapists are a growing workforce and have a wider scope of practice than dental therapists or dental hygienists. This qualitative study explores the work experiences of the first Oral Health graduates (class of 2009) from the University of Otago, who were initially registered as dental therapists and dental hygienists with the Dental Council of New Zealand but are now registered as oral health therapists (since 2017). Six graduates from the class of 2009 participated in one-to-one interviews. The findings identified that their individual work experience varied depending on their career pathway, employment environment, work and lifestyle balance, and overall goals. Participants expressed a high level of satisfaction with their current jobs and with the Bachelor of Oral Health programme. Their employment environment has improved over time and participants have been able to achieve a good balance between work and lifestyle according to their personal preferences and circumstances. However, some lack of understanding of the oral health therapist’s role and utilisation within private dental practice still exists. A limited number of participants, such as in this study, does not represent the perspectives of all oral health therapists in New Zealand; therefore, a further study involving New Zealand oral health therapists from all graduate cohorts from both the University of Otago and Auckland University of Technology is recommended.
Advisor: Moffat, Susan; Meldrum, Alison
Degree Name: Master of Oral Health
Degree Discipline: Oral Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry
Keywords: Oral health therapist; New Zealand; Career pathway; Career satisfaction; Work experience; Workforce; Oral health therapy; Employment environment
Research Type: Dissertation