New Specialist Program Accreditation Process

Domain 3. Operational Management

Domain 4. Accreditation Standards

Domain 5. Processes for accreditation of programs of study and education providers

Domain 8. Stakeholder collaboration



Australian Dental Council


Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function: Domain 3: Operational Management

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function: Domain 4: Accreditation Standards

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 5: Processes for accreditation of programs of study and education providers

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 8: Stakeholder collaboration

Issue addressed

Of the 62 programs currently accredited by the ADC, approximately half of those are postgraduate programs that provide graduates with the eligibility to register as one of the thirteen types of dental specialist with the Dental Board of Australia.  Such programs are referred to as ‘Specialist Dental Programs’.

Such programs have always been accredited by the ADC following its normal accreditation processes.  However, in addition to ADC accreditation nearly all specialist programs have been subject to a separate ‘peer review’ process by their relevant specialist academy or society.  Academy and society peer review requirements may be different from the ADC’s Accreditation Standards and their application has meant that program providers offering specialist dental programs will be subject to two sets of overlapping, but different ‘accreditation’ processes and requirements.  The separation of the two processes has meant that ADC accreditation visits did not normally include a specialist assessor on its Site Evaluation Team (SET), relying instead on the peer review report from the relevant academy or society to provide specialist ‘input’ to the ADC review.

Inevitably, such an approach led to much duplication of effort and an increase in the administrative burden for the program provider staff.  The two separate processes (and standards) also created the potential for the ADC accreditation process and the academy/society peer review process to arrive at different outcomes, sending mixed messages to program providers.

Practice introduced or changed

In 2014, the ADC engaged with many of the specialist academies and societies to identify how the duplication of effort could be reduced and the two processes aligned.

A revised ADC accreditation process for specialist dental programs was developed that required a specialist assessor to be included in the ADC SET for each specialist program being reviewed.  Each of the relevant academies or societies were invited to nominate members to the pool of ADC Accreditation Assessors to fill these roles.

The revised accreditation process allowed for academies and societies to undertake their peer review process in parallel with the ADC process, subject to approval from the program provider.

Training on the ADC accreditation standards and processes was provided to all new specialist assessors through a series of countrywide workshops.


The revised accreditation process (ADC/DC(NZ) procedure for the review of specialist dental practitioner programs) was introduced at the start of 2015, with 26 programs reviewed since that date.  The direct specialist input to the ADC accreditation process has allowed for better informed SET reports and the opportunity to undergo parallel ADC accreditation and academy/society peer review processes has greatly reduced the administrative burden on program providers.  It has also led to increased dialogue between the ADC and relevant academies and societies leading to a much stronger understanding of the role of each.

Where to go for more information

Please visit the ADC website: