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The Proposal to Allow Dentist Practice as General Physician

Government has agreed to the proposal of the Dental Council of India which had sought to allow dentists to practice as general physicians after a bridge course. In an attempt to address the acute shortfall of doctors in the country, Niti Aayog has proposed this bridge course. The successful completion of this course would allow dentists to practice as a general physician. The move is based on that the dental courses in the country follow the same training and curriculum as the MBBS courses for the first three years. A meeting in regards the proposal was conducted by the top advisory body Niti Aayog at the Prime Minister’s office on April 9.” In the said meeting it has been inter alia decided to explore the option of allowing dentists to practice family medicine or mainstream medicine following a bridge course” a letter by Niti Aayog inviting the DCI (dental council of india) had said.”Accordingly, a meeting to discuss issues on leveraging dentists to provide primary health care thereby reducing the gaps of current shortfall of doctors in the country was scheduled to be held on 22 April 2019.the DCI had also sent a proposal to the medical education regulator-medical council of India-but the previous council did not take it forward. The proposal is being examined by the think tank and the union health ministry .It is an attempt to provide more mid level medical practitioners in the country and help the acute shortage, especially in rural areas in the country. DCI (dental council of India) had sent a similar proposal to medical council of India last year. Country’s largest body of private doctors –Indian medical association which had earlier opposed a similar course for AYUSH practitioners has vehemently protested the proposed move too.

According to union health ministry, there is less than one doctor for every 1000 population in India which does not meet the World Health Organisation standards. A large number of dentist population is available who are taught basic medical subjects and dentistry being a part of allopathy, it is right time for the dental council of India to utilize human resources for dual purpose, that is a health professional who is capable of extending dental as well as medical health care. Hence Dental Council of India has allowed dentists to practice as general physician.

The proposal sought:

A bridge course of three years after BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery)

Admission would be based on either common entrance test or based on the marks secured in BDS course or combination.

Syllabus, scheme of examination, method of evaluation and the criteria will be same as recommended for MBBS.

Sources told that in a meeting between members of Aayog and a representative from dental council of India, it was decided that modalities of the course would be explored. According to officials in the ministry of health and family welfare, the notion is to scale up the medical education in India.

If this technique is implemented in our country, it will surely help our society, especially in rural areas, to improve health of the people. Dentist can find out both oral and general health problems and give full and effective treatment and support as well as preventive measures can be applied for a better and healthy society. Dentists as general practitioners may help the country’s problem to fulfill the shortage of doctors in rural areas and to educate the public regarding health, explain the oral manifestations of systemic diseases and habit counseling can be done with referral to oral manifestations.

- Reshma Bhat.DR