Registered Dental Surgery Assistant Program @10: The Journey.

Registered Dental Surgery Assistant Program @10: The Journey

By Shaibu Issifu.


Registered Dental Surgery Assistant (RDSA) program is a program which was started in 2007 at College of Health, Kintampo with the sole aim of training competent and highly professional oral health workers who would see to the smooth running of the dental surgery, take charge of the patients from arrival to their departure.

The program is similar to dental nurse in UK and was to be named ‘dental nurse’ in Ghana but for possible litigation that was imminent from Nursing and Midwifery Council about the use of the word “Nurse”.

Historically, dental assistant was introduced in 1885 by Dr. C. Edmund Kells when he constantly called for his wife to support him at the surgery, he later had to employ the services of Ms Malvina Cueria, who is now known as the first Dental Assistant in modern history, Dr. C Edmund Kelly is also historically known as the dentist who first used x-ray in dentistry.

Of course Dr. Henry Fowler also employed Ms. Juliette Southard in 1911. Dental Assistants were first known as “ladies in attendance”. In Ghana the hero and the father of modern Dental Assistant as we affectionately call him is Rev. Canon Dr. Joe Eyison, he spearheaded the introduction of the Registered Dental Surgery Assistants (RDSAs), his effort has yielded golden results and has seen the training of several high level professional Registered Dental Surgery Assistants to the admiration of all players in the dental fraternity. Kudos to Rev. Canon Dr. Joe Eyison for the wonderful job well executed, he is also credited with the composition of Kintampo College of Health Anthem and the patron of Oral Health Students Association of Ghana(OHSAG). There is now an award in his honor know as “Dr. Eyison’s excellence award” which is the highest award given to the overall best RDSA during school’s graduation ceremony.


  1. It is a known fact that RDSAs are the most highly trained students in College of health looking at how ‘live’ and resourceful the oral health department is, it is the only department that renders services to the general public in College of Health, Kintampo.
  2. It is an established fact that RDSAs introduced the wearing of flying ties on campus and made it an integral part of their uniform, all others who now do so learnt it from RDSAs.
  3. Within the ten years RDSAs in addition to other oral health students have formed the most formidable and potent association, Oral Health Students Association of Ghana (OHSAG) on campus.
  4. Training of RDSAs has brought some revolution in dentistry in Ghana. They ensure smooth running of the dental surgery and ensure procedures are carried out with ease.
  5. They give all the nursing care to patients after procedures are done.
  6. Training of RDSAs has reduced the use of untrained persons in the dental surgery who know nothing about dentistry. They only rigidly carry out instructions given to them without any demonstration of flexibility or mastery over the subject matter.
  7. RDSAs have filled the vacuum that exist between operators and the clients.
  8. Undertake lawful duties assigned to them by the operators.
  9. Within ten years, RDSAs have been able to form a strong external association to champion their course, Oral Health Professionals Association of Ghana (OHPAG)
  10. Career progression has been decisively carved for RDSAs.



1. Extension of the services of RDSAs to orphan districts (district without dentist) and if possible subdistricts. It is the right of every Ghanaian no matter their location to get oral health service be it curative or preventive. 2. Needless insecurity of some operators about the will power and competencies of RDSAs. 3. Broadening of the career pathway, though there are some career pathway. 4. Standardization of the nomenclature by all agencies of Ministry of Health. 5. Some RDSAs erroneously and pathetically allow themselves to be manhandled by some operators. Remember you are all employed by GHS or CHAG and regulated by different regulatory bodies but accountable to the employer. 6. The attempt by some few individuals to dilute the program through some nefarious activities (creation of pseudo training school to train DSAs). The introduction of RDSA program in 2007 has simply brought a positive revolution in the health sector specifically the oral health fraternity. The program would continue to be an eye opener to other programs in the college and elsewhere. The training of these cadre of oral health workers have effectively demystified oral health diseases and its treatments. RDSA apart from the clinical activities embark on massive preventive activities to create oral health awareness in compliance with 1978 Alma Alta declaration on Primary Health Care and 1986 Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion. I recommend to all stakeholders in our health sector to turn their focus and scarce resources towards the training of these cadres of oral health workers if we really want to make an access oral health service a right not a privilege. I acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Dennis Apres, Head of Oral Health Department, Kintampo; Mr. Douglas Avoka, President of Oral Health Practitioners Association of Ghana (OHPAG); Mr. Bediako Jacob, Fmr. President of Oral Health Students Association of Ghana; and all RDSAs, you have a lot to be proud of.


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