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Research Questions

  1. How do Australian Dental Council accreditation activities support intended outcomes and impacts?
  2. What are the mechanisms by which the Australian Dental Council's activities and outputs drive outcomes and impacts?
  3. How can these activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts be evaluated?

This project is the first step in a longer process being undertaken by the Australian Dental Council (ADC) to develop a framework for understanding and evaluating the impact of ADC's program accreditation work. ADC accredits education and training programs for the purposes of registration as a dentist, dental hygienist, dental therapist, oral health therapist, dental prosthetist and 13 recognised dental specialities.

Professional accreditation provides an assessment of the quality of training delivered by education providers and a mechanism for accountability against professional standards. It ensures that education providers produce graduates who are sufficiently competent to join the workforce and, within the healthcare sector, ensures graduates can perform their roles safely and effectively. Although approaches, the ultimate goal is always to ensure the public receive safe and high-quality care from practitioners who graduate from accredited programs. However, despite the widespread implementation of professional accreditation, there is a limited evidence base regarding its impacts and how to enhance these.

ADC commissioned RAND Australia and RAND Europe to develop a framework that will help ADC to identify and measure whether its accreditation activities are effective in producing competent and safe dental practitioners. In a broader sense it will help to assess the overall impact of accreditation on the oral health of the Australian population and identify potential strategies that may enhance the effectiveness of professional accreditation. The work is intended to support ADC in analysing the ways in which its accreditation activities effectively deliver against its aims.

Key Findings

  • ADC's accreditation reports provide an essential, directive mechanism of impact. However, this research has demonstrated that the ways in which ADC can achieve its desired outcomes and impacts are much broader than this.
  • Anticipatory impact mechanisms will always be a function of the accreditation process; however, our findings suggest that ADC's approach and the resources they provide strengthen this in a positive way.
  • ADC's activities also appear to generate impact via strong strategic and stakeholder mechanisms, which is anticipated given that continuous improvement and stakeholder engagement are at the core of ADC's approach. Perhaps less anticipated were the findings regarding relational impact mechanisms, which highlighted the importance of face-to-face meetings between ADC staff and providers.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and context

  • Chapter Two

    Study approach

  • Chapter Three

    Findings: A framework for understanding impact

  • Chapter Four

    Findings: A framework for evaluating impact

  • Chapter Five

    Summary and suggestions for strengthening the impact of dental program accreditation

Research conducted by

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