Dentistry students at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Faculty of Medical Science may have to pay for their own internships from next year or sit a mandatory exam in order to get their licence, according to students.
Newsday spoke yesterday to several students who said the Dental Act, which has been earmarked for discussion today in Parliament, could have serious consequences for students completing their training as it could possibly extend their five-year programme to six years and reduce their chances of employment. In addition to stipends, the students said they were also concerned over reports of the government wanting to use Jamaican dentists to fill a gap in local dental care.
“They are going to want to bring in Jamaican dentists to address what some government ministers are describing as a deficit in dental healthcare practitioners in TT, even though our local job market is absolutely saturated. Essentially government is dragging their feet on the issue and now we know why.”
The students said if their stipends were paid by the government instead of the university, they would be able to provide public healthcare and mitigate the lack of skilled labour.
“The problem is UWI has been paying the stipend all along and now they are saying they don’t have any money to spend on paying dental interns a stipend. Now the fact that UWI says they have no money is one thing. They are also saying that the new batch of dental interns will have to pay for their internships.”
Newsday spoke to Education Minister Anthony Garcia who said, while he had no information on the matter, he would look into it. Newsday also tried to contact Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh but was unsuccessful.