- To practice in New Zealand, all dentists must be registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand.
· The Dental Council of New Zealand is the statutory body for maintaining self-regulation of the dental profession.
· A person is entitled to be registered as a dentist in New Zealand if she/he:
(1) Holds the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery from a university in New Zealand, or its equivalent
(2) Has a reasonable command of English
(3) Plans to reside and practice in New Zealand
(4) Is considered fit to practice dentistry by the Dental Council
· The Council, before authorizing the registration of overseas qualified dentists, require them to sit and pass Dental Council Examinations.
· Some dentists are not required to pass the Registration Examination conducted by the Dental Council of New Zealand.
Ø In New Zealand, there are three types of dental registration.
(1) Registration as a Dentist
(2) Registration as a Specialist
(3) Temporary Registration
First two types of registration allows to practice or work without any limitation. Temporary registration enables quick entry into New Zealand without examination. But it has restrictions and is more difficult than other types.
The New Zealand Dental Specialist Registration Examination Process
Dentists and dental specialists are registered under the provisions of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA) 2003.
Be registered as a dentist in New Zealand or hold a prescribed undergraduate qualification for registration as a dentist in the general dental scope of practice; and
Hold a prescribed postgraduate qualifications, or have sat and passed the relevant New Zealand Dental Specialist Registration Examination
In addition you must satisfy the Dental Council of your fitness and competence to practice.
NZDREX Specialist Examination Entry Requirements
To be eligible to sit NZDREX specialist examination process you must:
Be registered as a dentist in New Zealand in the general dental scope of practice or hold a prescribed qualification for registration as a dentist in New Zealand
Provide satisfactory evidence of successful completion of a three-year postgraduate dental qualification in your specialty at a recognised tertiary academic institution
Appear to meet the fitness for registration requirements of s16 of the HPCA Act 2003. This section requires that Council must be satisfied that you:
are able to communicate effectively and comprehend English sufficiently to protect the health and safety of the public. In this regard unless you can demonstrate that your first language is English and that you have studied for and gained your dental degree/s in English you will need to sit and pass a Council approved English test before entry to the NZDREX specialist examination process is approved. See Policy on English competence for details on approved tests have not been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of three months or longer which reflects adversely on your fitness to practise are not unable to perform the functions required for the practise of dentistry because of a mental or physical condition. are not the subject of professional disciplinary proceedings, investigations or orders which reflect adversely on your fitness to practise. In this regard Council will require certificates of good standing from every jurisdiction you have worked in as an oral health practitioner in the last 7 years. will not endanger the health and safety of the public.
Provide satisfactory evidence that you have been engaged in the practice of the specialty in the last three years.
Assessment of eligibility
Whether or not the examination has previously been staged
Availability of examiners
Number of candidates wishing to sit the examination.
The time of year you apply (the examination is likely to be held at the end of year to coincide with the examination of MDS students)
Format of specialist examination
The format of the examination process will vary between specialties but will normally include:
Ø A written examination
Ø Presentation of cases
Ø Clinical examination of unseen cases
Ø Oral Examination
Ø Assessment of research
Ø Examiners will normally comprise two School of Dentistry staff and one external examiner appointed by the Dental Council.
Once the format of the examination has been finalised candidates will be provided with a detailed Examination Handbook relevant to the specialist examination they will be sitting.
The examination fee is set to cover costs and may vary between specialist examinations. The exact amount of the fee will be advised to candidates once the examination date has been set, but you should be aware that the fee will be in the range of $NZ 3000- 7000. This reduces if more than one candidate is sitting the examination at any one time.
Ø Section 21 of the Dental Act allows suitably qualified and experienced dentists to be registered
as specialists in the branch of dentistry for which they make application.
Dentists who hold full or temporary registration with the Dental Council are eligible to be granted specialist registration. The Council recommends to practitioners that up to two years be spent in general practice prior to embarking on specialisation.
Currently the Dental Council has granted specialist registration in the following branches of dentistry: restorative dentistry, prosthodontics, oral and maxillo-facial surgery; oral surgery orthodontics; periodontics; endodontics; community dentistry; hospital dentistry; paediatric dentistry; oral medicine and oral pathology.
Each application for specialist registration and each applicant is considered on a case by case basis and in accordance with the provisions of the Dental Act.
In assessing each application for specialist registration Council considers the statutory
requirements of s21 of the Dental Act 1988 which states:
(1) Except as provided in section 22 of the Act, every dentist shall be entitled to be registered as a specialist in respect of any branch of dentistry who satisfies the Council –
(a) That he or she is the holder of a qualification approved by the Council as appropriate for registration in respect of the branch of dentistry in relation to which the application is made; and
(b) That he or she has sufficient training and experience in that branch of dentistry to justify registration as a specialist in respect of that branch of dentistry.
In determining whether applicants for specialist registration meet the requirements of section 21, Council considers:
The comparability of the qualification with the appropriate Masters degree from the University of Otago
The recency of the qualification
Any training and experience in the specialist field
Whether the applicant is practising that branch of dentistry at a specialised level
Each application for registration and each applicant is considered by the Council on a case by case basis and in accordance with the provisions of the Dental Act.
In assessing each application for registration from overseas-trained dentists Council considers the statutory requirements of s20 & 22 of the Dental Act 1988, which state:
Sn 20. Overseas Qualifications for registration –
(1) Except as provided in Sn 22 of this Act, every person shall be entitled to be registered under this Act who satisfies the Council…..
(a) that he or she intends to reside and practise in New Zealand
(b) (i) is the holder of a degree in dentistry granted by a university elsewhere than in
New Zealand; and
(ii) has, in the course of obtaining that degree, successfully completed a course of
study that is equivalent to the course of study set down for admission to the degree
of Bachelor of Dental Surgery of a university in New Zealand; and
(iii) is registered in the dental register kept in the country in which the degree is
granted. Or that there is a good and sufficient reason why he or she is not so
(iv) has a reasonable command of the English language
(2) Council may, before authorising the registration of any applicant require the applicant to undertake and pass an examination set or recognised by the Council for the purpose of satisfying itself that the applicant has sufficient knowledge and experience to practise in New Zealand and that… the applicant has a reasonable command of the English language; and, … the Council may set or conduct or recognise such oral, written, and practical examinations as it thinks fit.
Sn 22. Fitness to practise dentistry –
(1) No person shall be registered under this Act –
(a) if the person has been convicted by any Court in New Zealand or overseas of any
offence punishable by imprisonment for not less than 3 months and the body
responsible for maintaining the register is satisfied that the circumstances of the
offence reflect adversely on the person’s fitness to practise dentistry; or
(b) if the body responsible for maintaining the register is satisfied that registration would
be inappropriate because the person is liable to face professional disciplinary
proceedings in another country or is under investigation by any dental professional
organisation in another country; or
(c) if the body responsible for maintaining the register is satisfied that the person would
be unable to perform professional duties satisfactorily by reason of any mental or
physical disability or condition; or
(d) if the body responsible for maintaining the register is otherwise satisfied that the
person is not fit to practise as a dentist … as the case may be.
Council also takes the view that “knowledge and experience” are requirements for registration in their own right (under Sn 22(1)(d) and/or Sn 20(2)).
In assessing whether an applicant meets the statutory requirements of the Dental Act, the Dental Council gives consideration to such particulars as:
the applicant’s course of study as compared with the BDS (Otago), including whether the applicant is a graduate of university accredited by a sound accreditation process 1 and bearing in mind the difficulties in attempting to assess individual university courses on a paper basis:
whether the applicant has sat and passed relevant licensing authority examinations in the country from which the dental degree was granted
overseas registration details
recency of practice
other qualifications held relevant to the practice of dentistry
1 Council recognises the following accreditation systems as having vigorous and robust accreditation processes, which accredit courses, which are considered equivalent to, the Otago BDS:
Commission on Dental Accreditation which accredits dental schools in the USA and Canada
The Australian Dental Council system which accredits schools in Australia
The accreditation system run by the United Kingdom General Dental Council (GDC). This involves UK dental schools and the following overseas schools: Western Cape (until 31/12/97), Hong Kong, Singapore, Witswaterand, Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Medical University of South Africa and Malaya (until 31/12/00). Generally this means that graduates of UK, Australian, US, Canadian, Hong Kong, Singapore, South African and Malaysian schools are registered subject to sitting and passing a two hour open book examination on NZ Conditions of Practice. Other applicants are normally also required to sit and pass the 6 hour Written Examination and the Clinical Examination which is conducted over 4 days.
Council will continue to assess and make decisions on the recognition of other overseas accreditation systems as they develop.
certificate of good standing from the jurisdiction/s last registered with referees’ reports
previous NZDREX pass rates of contemporaneous graduates from the same university
details of any mental or physical disability or condition
police or Interpol checks
whether the applicant has satisfied the Council that he or she has sufficient knowledge of the cultural, social and legislative framework for the delivery of care in New Zealand
evidence of English language skills. In general applicants are considered to have a reasonable command of English:
- if English is their first language and they completed their primary dental training in English;
- they have passed a Council approved English test to the required level
THE DENTAL REGISTRATION EXAMINATIONS (NZDREX)
Dentists who can demonstrate that their first language is English and that they have studied for and gained their dental degree in English are usually exempt from the English requirement.
However if this does not apply to you the Dental Council may require you to demonstrate your competence in English by passing an approved English test. These are:
1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Band)
The examination has four parts: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
contains reading passages (1,500–2500 words) Reading (60 minutes)
questions on the passages
contains two tasks Writing (60 minutes)
requires no specialist knowledge
contains 38-42 questions Listening (30 minutes)
sections I & II are about social needs
sections III & IV are about situations in educational and training contexts
an oral interview (a conversation with the examiner) Speaking (10–15 minutes)
the examiner assesses whether you have the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively with native English speakers
The Dental Council normally requires you to:
sit the academic level of IELTS pass all four parts of IELTS (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking)
and get an average score of 7 or more for IELTS (all parts)
and score at least 6 for Listening and at least 6 for Speaking.
Universities and polytechnics can provide sample questions to help to prepare candidates for IELTS.
The publications below are commercially produced and designed to prepare candidates to take IELTS tests. They are available from bookshops specialising in English language teachingmaterials or from the publisher.
1. IELTS Preparation and Practice Reading and Writing- Academic Module
By Wendy Sahanaya and Jeremy Lindeck
IALF Education for Development, OUP, Melbourne, 1997 (ISBN 019 554093 X)
2. Prepare for IELTS Academic Modules
By Vanessa Todd and Penny Cameron
In search Language Centre, University of Technology, Sydney, 1996 [Book and Cassette] (ISBN 1 86365 311 2)
For additional information, see www.ielts.org
2. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
The TOEFL examination must be sat with the Test of Written English (TWE) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE).
There are two formats for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
A. Paper Test
The Supplementary Paper-Based Test has three sections:
Structure and Written Expression,
The Dental Council normally requires you to:
Score at least 570 in TOEFL, and
Score at least 4 in TWE, and
Score at least 50 in TSE
The Test of Written English (TWE), a 30 minute writing test, is administered with the Paper Test five times a year. A separate TWE score is reported on the TOEFL paper-based score report.
The Test of Spoken English is a separate examination but must also be sat with TOEFL. The test is approximately 20 minutes long.
Important: While the TSE test is given at some TOEFL test locations, it is NOT administered as part of the TOEFL test.
B. Computer Based Test
The computer based test has four sections instead of three and includes TWE.
The Test of Spoken English continues to be a paper- and- pencil based test and has to be sat separately. Council will accept both paper and computer based formats.
The Dental Council normally requires you to:
Score at least 230 in TOEFL, and
Score at least 50 in TSE
See website for additional information www.toefl.org
3. Occupational English Test (OET)
The OET examination is available in Australia and in Australian Embassies throughout the world. The examination has four parts: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
The Dental Council normally requires you to pass all four parts of OET (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) with either a grade A or B pass mark.
See website for additional information: www.oet.com.au
You must ask the examiners to send the certified results directly to the Dental Council. A pass in an approved English examination is normally required before you may sit anyother registration examination.
You must apply for registration as a dentist in New Zealand (Form A) before you can enrol to sit the Dental Registration Exams
Complete application forms (Form A) Pay fees
Send all the required documentation, including certified copies of your degrees, diplomas and qualifications
The Dental Council of New Zealand will consider each application on its own merits, taking into consideration applicants command of the English language and their knowledge and experience in the dental field. Therefore, very often Council requires overseas qualified dentists to sit and pass examinations to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to practice and competence in English
Overseas qualified dentists(except for those from the United Kingdom and Australia) are strongly advised to enrol and prepare for these examinations while they await the Council's decision.
Complete and return Form C: Application, send in three passport sized photos and pay fees
There are three examinations:a. English Exam IELTS, OET, TOEFL or approved equivalentb. Written Registration Exam to establish whether candidates understand the scientific basis of oral health care, and this includes both written papers and visual materialc. Clinical Registration Exam to establish candidate's competence to deliver oral health care. This includes clinical, practical and oral exams.Top of Form
The Written Examination tests your knowledge and understanding of the scientific basesof oral
health care and your ability to apply that knowledge - in the general area of pre-clinical health sciences (medical and oral). You should be able to discuss a wide range of issues of relevance
to oral health in the biological, physical (including biomaterial sciences) social and clinical
The Written Examination is generally held twice a year in Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin.
The Written Examination consists of two papers:
is 3 hours
assesses your knowledge and understanding of the scientific basis of contemporary clinical
dentistry and how to apply that knowledge. In this paper some questions may require you to
demonstrate an ability to analyse and evaluate current knowledge.
includes essay and short-answer questions
You should note the difference between the following three terms frequently used in the
Discuss: examine by argument. Involves logical critical appraisal of an issue.
Describe: description of characteristics
Write (brief) notes on: short sentences or phrases. Tables, lists and/or diagrams may
The last two terms are often used in questions that enable you to demonstrate your breadth of
is three hours
includes 1 hour of 50 MCQs
includes 2 hours of visual material in the form of images illustrating clinical conditions and
questions requiring short written answers
Your script will be assigned a number and it will be marked anonymously by a team of
All marginal candidates will have their scripts re-evaluated by the principal examiners.
Papers 1 and 2 are scored out of 100 and are of equal value.
To pass the Written Examination you must gain a score of at least 50% in each paper.
You will be required to resit any paper in which a score of less than 50% was obtained.
You will normally be informed of the results of the written examination within 3 weeks of
If you have gained a partial pass under the old written examination system (which ceased in
June 2001) you should note the following:
Passes in the previous written examination are valid for three years
Candidates current status Under new system
- partial pass in paper 1 Sit papers 1 & 2
- partial passes in papers 1 & 2 Sit paper 2
- partial passes in papers 1 & 3 Sit paper 1
- partial pass in paper 2 Sit papers 1 & 2
- partial passes in papers 2 & 3 Sit paper 1
- partial pass in paper 3 Sit paper 1& 2
A pass in the Written Examination is normally a prerequisite for the Clinical Examination.
The NZDREX Clinical Examination is held three times a year at the University of Otago School
of Dentistry, Dunedin. It is an intensive exam held over 5 days with pressures equivalent to fifth
year graduation examinations.
The objective of the Clinical Examination is to determine whether you can plan, manage, deliver
and evaluate oral health care for individuals and communities. This includes determining whether you:
can obtain and utilise patient information •
demonstrate competence in New Zealand’s preventive approach to oral health care for •
individuals and the community
are competent in a wide range of interventive strategies to manage oral disease and •
can assess the effectiveness of intervention. •
The Clinical Examination has two sections. You must perform satisfactorily in Section A before
proceeding to Section B.
This is an objective, structured, clinical examination (OSCE). It tests theoretical and practical knowledge.
You will be asked to write brief answers to questions or perform tasks relating to clinical care.
You must be prepared to explain the scientific basis of clinical decisions.
You will be asked to reply to questions or perform a range of set tasks on clinical oral care.
Typical tasks take 10 minutes. The total examination time is 2 hours.
Questions and tasks may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, prescription writing, and problems of diagnosis and treatments, based on radiographs, photographs and study models.
You simulate a wide range of tasks and procedures using manikins in a clinical setting. There are 6 hours of operating over two halfdays. A dental assistant is provided.
Procedures may include operative, periodontal, paediatric, prosthodontic, endodontic or orthodontic tasks.
Examiners evaluate the way you perform the tasks and the final results.
You sit a clinical oral examination (viva voce) of approximately 30 minutes duration.
Examiners may ask questions on any aspects of general clinical practice. You must be
prepared to explain the scientific basis for your answers.
Assessment of Section A
Your performance in Section A is assessed at a formal examiners’ meeting. If you perform
satisfactorily in Section A, you proceed to Section B.
Section B consists of clinical work with patients. You will perform various clinical procedures for
patients. Some procedures are irreversible. The procedures will normally be completed in less
than 1 hour.
Section B is divided into the following components: Restorative Dentistry and Periodontology,
Exodontia and Local Analgesia, Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Oral Medicine and
Diagnosis and Communication Skills
Procedures tested may vary. However, they will normally include all of the following:
Administration of analgesia
Exodontia or minor oral surgery
History, examination, problem solving and treatment planning for patients of different ages
and states of health
Specific clinical procedures from the range expected of a general dental practitioner in New
During the Oral Medicine and Diagnosis component of the Clinical Examination candidates are
evaluated by additional examiners skilled in communication skills assessment. You are
expected to display the current Year 2 – 4 BDS (Otago) competencies.
Communication Skills Competencies
Candidates should have mastered a set of communication competencies that are basic to the
establishment of rapport with patients. The requirements are that a candidate should be able
1. Greet a patient warmly and introduce himself or herself confidently.
2. Attend to the patient’s comfort, for example to offer to hang up coats and hats, ensure the patient is seated comfortably, and minimise distractions.
3. Arrange the local environment so that it is appropriate for an interview, the patient in an
upright position, the candidate facing the patient at the same height, with due attention to personal space.
4. Use open-ended questions to obtain information, and provide feedback in the form of reflective responses to indicate that what the patient is saying is important.
5. Use non-verbal behaviour that demonstrates attentiveness and active listening.
6. Give uncomplicated information, using terms that the patient can understand.
7. Summarise for the patient the findings and accomplishment of the interaction.
8. Close the interaction in a warm and confident matter.
9. To elicit accurate medical and dental histories from patients.
10. To react appropriately during analgesic procedures so as to minimise clinician and
11. To demonstrate a skilled and caring approach to patients.
12. To show a professional interaction with colleagues and staff.
13. To understand the principles and practice of providing health advice and optimising client compliance.
The Clinical Examination is a test of overall clinical competence. It does not necessarily consist of “stand alone” examinations in each of the nine disciplines.
Two examiners are present at all face to face encounters
A letter grade (A to E) marking scale is used.
Compensation may be allowed for marginal failures between sections of the examination.
Final results are reviewed at an examiners’ meeting with a non-examining, DCNZ appointed
Examinations Director chairing the meeting.
Observers, appointed by the Council, may be in attendance to observe the conduct of the
D or E grades denote a lack of clinical competence or a lack of professional skills
considered potentially dangerous and /or unacceptable.
Clinical Examination results are usually available within 1 week.
Partial Pass in the Clinical Examination
Candidates who display high levels of competence in some areas of the Clinical Examination may be recommended to re-sit only those parts that they failed. Given however that the Clinical Examination is a test of overall clinical competence this is the exception rather than the rule.
The components to be repeated will be determined by the examiners.
Withdrawal from the Clinical Examination Candidates who withdraw from the Clinical should do so as early as possible to allow the examination place to be offered to another candidate.
If you decide to withdraw and if the Dental Council is advised 0–6 days before the first day of the examination, the fee will not normally be refunded. In addition the withdrawal will be viewed as a failure of the Clinical Examination in terms of deciding the candidates priority for any future Clinical Examination applications. However, in exceptional circumstances such as severe illness or urgent domestic problems, the Dental Council may consider refunding part of the fee and/or maintaining the candidates correct priority placing. In this case, you must produce documented proof of the exceptional circumstances.
You are required to provide a current Hepatitis B & C status report including Hepatiitis B surface
antigen and antibody and Hepatitis C antibody. This report should be less than 6 months old at
the time of the Clinical Examination. Only the original, typed and signed results will be accepted.
The test must be carried out at a Telarc registered laboratory in New Zealand. If this is not
possible candidates for the Clinical will be tested on the familiarisation morning of the exam
General Suggestions on Preparation for the Clinical Examination.
•Try to get a good night’s sleep before the examination. Do not use stimulants.
•Dress comfortably and tidily for the examination.
•Allow ample time for travel. Perhaps check out the venue for the examination the day
•Bring a watch to assist in pacing the examinations.
•Clinical skills, application of dental knowledge and communication skills are all tested. Your ability to communicate with the patient (or patient’s guardian) is an important part of the exam. Council recommends that you practise your English as a part of preparing for the
•If you are uncertain about any instruction or question from the examiners during your
Clinical Examination, ask for clarification.
•Candidates sometimes appear to overlook the fact that real patients are present in the
Clinical Examination. Courteousness and thoughtfulness towards the patient are noted by
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