Investigation into the enablers and barriers of career satisfaction among Australian oral health therapists.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Community Dent Oral Epidemiol, 2023, 51, (2), pp. 301-310
Issue Date:
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OBJECTIVES: This qualitative study explored the enablers and barriers of career satisfaction among Australian oral health therapists (OHTs) and the reasons behind career changes. METHODS: Participants were recruited in 2 ways: 1) recruitment posts were made on the Facebook pages of two professional groups; and 2) an email was sent to the Doctor of Dental Medicine students of the University of Sydney School of Dentistry, inviting those with OHT qualifications to participate. Each participant completed a semi-structured interview which was guided by open-ended questions. The average interview length was 45 min. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and manually coded. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data was completed using an inductive approach. RESULTS: Twenty-one OHTs participated in this study. The enablers of OHT career satisfaction include clinical practice, job variety, career flexibility, being in a supportive team environment and the opportunity for constant learning and growth. The barriers to career satisfaction include musculoskeletal problems, restrictions on the scope of practice use, psychological stress and lack of recognition from others. OHTs remain in the profession due to stable income and employment opportunities. The main reasons for retirement were burnout and pursuing dentistry. OHTs pursue dentistry to expand their scope of practice. CONCLUSION: This study revealed the enablers and barriers of OHT career satisfaction in an Australian context. OHTs are an important component of modern dental workforces, and reasons for attrition within the workforce are essential for maintaining responsiveness to community oral health needs.
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