By Donald Houston-McMillan, Managing Director of Allmed Healthcare Professionals

It’s been a long time coming, but the news that the highest court in the land has confirmed that dental assistants are due the recognition and protection afforded to many other healthcare professionals is extremely positive – it’s good for dentists and their patients, and certainly great news for dental assistants themselves.

Before the Supreme Court of Appeal’s recent ruling, these vital support staff were not allmed_imageofficially recognized for their experience, their knowledge, or the intrinsic role they play in the success of a dental practice.

What’s more, employers can be certain that they are hiring a person qualified for the job when they appoint an assistant certified by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), whether they have passed the assessments required for registration or been officially recognized for their experience in excess of five years.

Along with that certainty comes an obligation for employers to remunerate appropriately, and to recognize the dental assistant as a skilled and qualified worker who has a clear job description that extends to supporting the dentist’s clinical needs, and offering support to patients.

We know that a career as a dental assistant is a great opportunity for a matric learner with a university entrance in maths, science or biology, and after a one-year qualification, graduates are ready to enter the workplace sooner than those finishing many other qualifications.

The qualification teaches some of the most important and life-protecting parts of running a medical practice: infection control, patient care, record keeping, and the basics of business management. In short, qualified dental assistants are the barrier between the patient and the practice – and the bridge to efficient service for the dentist.

At Allmed Healthcare Professionals, a Workforce Holdings Limited (JSE: WKF) company, we place a range of medical and dental professionals in private and public sector practices, taking the headache out of finding the best person for the job.

With the South African Dental Association concerned that there are not enough qualified dental assistants to meet the needs of the country’s 6,000 dentists, we are in a position to help dentists find the most qualified person for the job, whether they need a dental assistant in a long-term position, or whether they need temporary assistance while their permanent employee is off ill, on leave or completing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) coursework.

Our years of experience of working with medical professionals, from GPs to specialists, from nurses to home-based frail carers, means that we know what the sector needs: whether a business is a dentist, a general practitioner, a specialist practice or a public sector hospital, the most successful outcome for all parties is having workers who are appropriately qualified, suitably certified, well-remunerated, productive members of the workforce, offering great value to their employers.

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