Tupapa dental clinic’s chief dental officer, Danny Areai, says they hosted nine students who are in their final year of studies.
“This is before they graduate as dentists, three of whom are still in Rarotonga, as well as two dentists. The Cook Islands has received such students for a number of years,” Dr Areai said.
He said the dental students are undertaking their elective training attachments in the Cook Islands and this is similar to medical students who also undertake electives in the Cook Islands.
“The attachment helps broaden their clinical knowledge by working in less resourced settings and providing health care services to patients under supervision. There is an added benefit for students to enjoy and experience our culture and hospitality.”
Dr Areai said there is reciprocal benefit to the Cook Islands health workforce in terms of exchange of clinical skills, training and culture.
He said the visiting teams on occasion also donate dental equipment and/or consumables to our oral health services.
“With such exposure to the Cook Islands, we also anticipate that as dentists, they may choose to revisit the Cook Islands. This attachment has been in existence for more than 30 years.”
He said the final year students are mainly from Germany, United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand and many of these former students over the years have returned to offer support to the Ministry of Health’s oral health services.
He said others have gone on to become dental specialists.
“Some are running their own practices in their respective countries. Often when they take a break from their busy practices they come back to the Cook Islands and do work or donate equipment for our oral health services.”
He said a good example was Dr Felix Lorenz who returned to Rarotonga with his wife and donated some equipment for the dental clinic.
“A rotary endodontic device, furnace for laboratory, and automated bunsen burners to name a few. We are very grateful for these kind donations to our clinic and this will go a long way in supporting the provision of oral health care in the Cook Islands.”
He added that at the moment there are five practising Cook Islands dental officers.