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Insights into factors affecting recruitment and retention of Victorian dentists

It is widely acknowledged that the high turnover of staff within the public dental services throughout Australia has consequential impacts on both services delivered and costs. In light of such apparent disaffection with the public sector as an employer and insufficient literature relating to dentists’ job satisfaction in Australia, identification of factors that inhibit workforce recruitment and retention and enhance job satisfaction among dental practitioners in the public sector was expedient. The objective of this qualitative research was to identify factors that influence recruitment and retention of public sector dentists in Victoria. A literature review informed the development of a unique series of open ended and directional questions. A diverse panel of public sector dentists (N=6) was selected as a focus group and a semi-structured interaction using the developed questions was held with this panel in November 1999. The panel discussion was transcribed and taped and periodic checks were performed to ensure the validity of transcription and interpretation. This research develops a context for consideration of those issues that impact upon recruitment and retention of public sector dentists in Victoria. The core themes emerging from the panel that were perceived to influence recruitment were: role modeling, controllable lifestyle and career pathways. Factors perceived to influence retention were: clinician ‘burnout’, management practices including lack of autonomy, lack of a defined career structure and/or pathway and inadequate remuneration for skills and services provided.¬†Strategies to improve the team approach in context of the clinical team and the relationship between management and staff and enhancements to remuneration packages not solely based upon increases to salary may influence both recruitment and retention of dentists in the public sector in Victoria.¬†This work was supported by a contract from the Victorian Department of Human Services.

K Jones*, D Teusner, KF Roberts-Thomson, AJ Spencer.


Presented at the 33rd Public Health Association of Australia Annual Conference, 23-26 September 2001, Sydney, Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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