Achieving student diversity in dental schools: a model that works.J Dent Educ. 2012 May; 76(5):523-33.JD
It is well known that there is a large disparity between the proportions of African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians in the general U.S. population and in the nation's dental profession. While these underrepresented minorities (URMs) together make up almost 30 percent of the population, they comprise only about 6 percent of U.S. dentists. For years, the American Dental Education Association has been diligently working with U.S. dental schools to reduce this disparity by increasing the diversity of their student bodies. However, with approximately 13 percent of first-year dental students coming from URM groups, the proportion of URM students entering dental school continues to remain significantly below that of the general population. Diversifying the dental profession is important for improving access to care for underrepresented groups, and student diversity provides better educational experiences for all students. Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry's strategy for increasing the number of URM dentists was to create a series of initiatives that together form a successful comprehensive program addressing students' awareness of and attraction to a dental career, academic enrichment, admissions, and graduation. The cumulative impact of this program is that the college enrolled greater numbers and proportions of URM students than any other non-minority U.S. dental school from 2006 to 2009. This article describes the program that led to these successes.