Professional recognition of dentists to be aligned to prevailing EU practice

15:32, 12 April, 2017
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dental-enrolment-introRīga Stradiņš University has expressed official support to the students’ call for systematisation of dentist certification by filing with the state authorities a respective appeal undersigned by over 900 students.

Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) has been making continuous efforts to change certification requirements for students coming from EU and other countries. The university has approached with this issue state authorities at the highest level, among them: the Prime Minister of Latvia, the Minister of Health, likewise professional organisations, the Latvian Medical Association and the Latvian Dental Association among them. Dentist’s diploma is the sole qualification document in the majority of EU member states. RSU calls to amend the current legislative framework and accordingly also the existing practice which requires young dentists who are planning to return to their country of residence, inter alia EU member states, to acquire also a professional certificate. Herewith we strongly stand in for the students’ call to change the certification process for it to comply with the latest EU practice.

The number of foreign students in Latvia is considerable. Internationalisation of higher education and facilitation of international competitiveness are among the targets set out in the National Guidelines for the Development of Education for 2014–2020. According to the guidelines, access to higher education for international cooperation, information exchange and boosting of competitiveness are among the priority development directions of education. At present the implementation thereof is jeopardised by the position of the Latvian Medical Association.

RSU provides top quality education in medicine and has one of the most sophisticated study facilities for dentists in Northern Europe. Over the last decade RSU has invested around two million EUR from university’s own funds in expansion and modernisation of its pre-clinical and clinical study bases. The university has created a modern preclinical training facility with 24 dentistry and prosthetics phantom heads and 9 virtual simulators. The clinical base for RSU is the Institute of Dentistry – an internationally recognised, high quality practical dentistry centre. RSU dentistry studies are among Latvia’s stories of success!

At present, following completion of the study programme and upon successful passing of the state examination, graduates of the study programme are awarded a university diploma. However to launch dental practice in Latvia a certificate issued by a professional organisation is required. The certification is provided by the Latvian Medical Association. The requirements for obtaining the certificate are: passed professional exam and ability to demonstrate state language proficiency at C1 level (comparable to native-language fluency). Therewith proper acquisition of the profession by our foreign students is restrained, since the diploma is not regarded a proper certification of his/her knowledge, skills and proficiency as it is the case in the majority of EU member states, thus, to obtain the certificate, the graduates are obliged to take additional tests, notwithstanding the fact that none of them is planning to practice in Latvia.

In the majority of EU member states no additional dentist’s certificate is required for recognition of the obtained qualification. Dentist’s diploma is the sole qualification document in Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia and United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding repeated efforts of RSU management and continuous investments in modernisation of dental education, this issue has remained unsolved and therewith RSU officially joins in the letter recently undersigned by over 900 students, demanding state authorities to solve this issue with immediate effect.