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THERE IS A SHORTAGE OF DENTISTS IN MALAYSIA, AND FOR THE TIME'S BEING AT LEAST, A SHORTAGE OF PLACES TO STUDY TO BECOME ONE. That seems to be changing however, and institutes and even governments are rushing to fill the educational gap. They are doing this out of necessity -- Malaysia simply needs the dentists, but interestingly, many of the initiatives seem to be originating outside of Malaysia. Consider this story which appeared in the New Straits Times in February 2008: "STUDENTS can now get a world-class dentistry qualification with the option of completing their degree at a partner dental school overseas or spending the full five years locally.

"This is the attractive new programme being offered by the International Medical University (IMU).

"With its first intake on Feb 25, the Bachelor of Dentistry programme is a comprehensive course in medical and dental sciences with significant community health, behavioural science and clinical practice components.

"Students will have early clinical experience in treating patients at the IMU dental facilities at the Bukit Jalil campus...

"Students can complete their degree at IMU's renowned partner dental schools in Australia and New Zealand, or receive the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from IMU..."

Consider also this older news which I found online yesterday: India will set up a dental college in Malaysia, Minister of State for External Affairs said. Malaysia was keen to have India`s cooperation in setting up higher education institutes, the Minister, who held wide-ranging talks with leaders including Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi during his three-day visit said. The college, to be set up by Salem-based Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation Deemed University, will offer five-year dentistry course. It will be set up along with a local partner here, Ahamed said. During the visit, which the officials described as highly substantive, the Malaysian leaders assured India that the proposed dental college could be set up soon after a few issues could be ironed out, including the number of seats in the institute.

Such promising devlopments aside, the Malaysian National News Agency Bernama reported in July 2007: "Malaysia needs at least 10 years to achieve its target of achieving the ratio of one dentist for every 4,000 people, said a Malaysia Dental Council member Mej-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Dr Mohd Termidzi Junaidi.

He said the present ratio was 1:9,000, while the country could now only produce between 400 and 500 dentists a year either trained locally or abroad.

"The local universities producing dentists are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), Penang International Dentistry College, and Asia Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology..."

a r t i s t + s c i e n t i s t

WHY IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF DENTISTS IN MALAYSIA? To be frank, this alleged problem is one which doesn't gel with my personal experiences. The last time I went to see the dentist (it was on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia) the dentist told me he was a Malaysian Chinese. Last weekend in Tokyo, I had a second-hand encounter with a Malaysian-Chinese, this time a woman, and she told me (indirectly, because this was a second-hand experience) that she wanted to be a dentist. All that aside, there seems to be a shortage of dentists in Malaysia, and possibly a stigma attached to being one. Why is this so? Or is it because the rising dental consciousness and awareness of dental hygiene among Malaysian people, is creating a need for a huge number of new dentists?

"Dentistry is a dynamic health profession that provides a rewarding career, especially because of the insufficient number of dentists available in Malaysia to provide adequate oral healthcare to its population," says Dean of the School of Dentistry at the aforementioned IMU, Prof Toh Chooi Gait.

"Dentists are both artists as well as scientists as they are not only required to have the scientific knowledge and technology to diagnose, prevent and treat oral diseases and oro-facial anomalies but also need to be skilful in handling the wide variety of materials, instruments and equipment to execute treatment," she said.

Besides filling cavities and extracting teeth, routine cleaning and scaling, the job of a dentist also includes aligning and straightening teeth, restoring function to badly decayed, broken or infected teeth, and replacing missing teeth with dentures, bridges or implant-supported prostheses.

Dentists start off with a monthly salary of about RM2,800 in the public service in Malaysia.

Upon starting a practice in the private sector, a young dentist can earn up to RM8,000 per month.

Plenty of opportunities exist for those entering the field of dentistry today.

As the public's awareness of the importance of dental care increases, so does the need for both qualified general practitioners and dental specialists.

For more information, contact 03-88567272/7273, visit www.imu.edu.my or email to enquiry@imu.edu.my. "

"EDUCATION FOR ALL" IS THE MOTTO OF THE OPEN UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA (UNIVERSITI TERBUKA MALAYSIA), WHICH EVER SINCE ITS OPENING IN THE YEAR 2000 HAS ESTABLISHED 53 LEARNING CENTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Malaysian Students team blog last year (2007) discussed five "Rising Sun": what is the difference between Nutrition and Food Science? "Pardon me for not knowing the differences," the team answered. "For me, they are 'almost' the same. I went to the edu fair once before, and I bumped in to a booth. I asked the college receptionist regarding about the food science, and they told me that it is a field which deals with food and the contents in it. And when I inquired about the differences between the nutrition and food science, another staffs told me, "I'm sorry sir, our courses are only opened to girls.", which means, I didn't get the explanation of the differences between them. I'm sorry.

Open University Malaysia faculties are:
Faculty of Business & Management
Faculty of Education, Arts & Social Sciences
Faculty of Engineering and Technical Studies
Faculty of Information Technology & Multimedia Communication
Faculty of Science
Centre for Graduate Studies
Institute of Professional Development
School of Life Long Learning

s t u d y + n u r s i n g

ADD TO THIS LIST NURSING, WHICH RECENTLY BECAME AVAILABLE AT OUM. According to an online report: "Open University of Malaysia (OUM) is now eyeing to produce more specialist nurses for Malaysia. OUM is now offering the Bachelor of Nursing Sciences (Honours) programme to meet the country's acute need for more specialist nurses. This two-year programme enables those with the Diploma In Nursing to pursue further studies in the health and medical fields.
"OUM university has held discussions with Health Ministry and Malaysian Nursing Board on its plan to offer this degree programme. The programme is offered to holders of a basic diploma in nursing who are registered with the national nursing board, OUM receives overwhelming response from all parties as the programme is unique based on its flexibility. The programme focuses on clinical expertise and direct involvement implemented via clinical training at participating hospitals.
"Health Ministry and several teaching hospitals offer clinical training for those taking the programme. The ministry has allowed OUM to use clinical facilities at 21 government hospitals nationwide. OUM has also received the nod from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) for the same purpose.
"Among the cooperation agreed is the utilisation of clinical facilities for six fields:
> Trauma and Emergency Nursing
> Critical Care Nursing
> Mental Health Nursing
> Paediatrics Nursing
> Renal Nursing
> Oncology Nursing
"Senior nurses at participating hospitals will function as clinical supervisors. They will give direct teaching and supervision in wards based on the printed and electronic modules issued. Students will be supplied with the laboratory skills virtual aid to help them prepare for the clinical training.
"There is currently a high demand for male nurses, OUM also encourages more men to apply for the course. The government wants males to join the nursing profession and its target is to produce 300 male nurses from the 3,000 qualified nurses produced every year..."

W a w a s a n + O p e n + U n i v e r s i t y

OUM HAS SOME COMPETITION. Wasawan Open University is Malaysia's first private, non-profit tertiary institution dedicated to working adults. It is also only the second Internet-driven open university in Malaysia. The Gerakan Education Foundation -- later renamed Wawasan Education Foundation (WEF) -- in August 2002 was established as a tax-exempt charitable foundation to promote lifelong education to the public. Eight experts in open and distance learning were commissioned to prepare a detailed proposal for the establishment of an Open and Virtual University of Malaysia (OVUM). The report was submitted to the foundation in 2003.

Wawasan Open University (WOU) opened its door on 22nd January 2007 with an initial offering of 11 undergraduate degree programmes under three faculties - the science and technology, business administration and foundation studies. Courses include degrees in information systems, computing science & artificial intelligence, business information systems, accounting and sales & marketing. The cost of an undergraduate programme is about RM16,000.

680 students had already enrolled with the university, which has four study centers located in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh and Johor Baru.

Wasawan Open University is now up and online and offers programmes in three Schools (Science and Technology, Business and Administration, and Foundation Studies.) Some of the courses covered are Bachelor of Technology in Electronic Commerce, Bachelor of Business in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and Bachelor of Business in Sales and Marketing.

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