The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pipeline, Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education Program, launched in 2002, had three goals: (1) increase the number of underrepresented minority students who are recruited and retained in dental education; (2) improve the dental school curriculum regarding cultural competence; and (3) increase community-based extramural clinical rotations.
The Pipeline program emphasized extramural rotations to allow students and residents to see more patients and provide more services in community delivery sites. By familiarizing students with community clinics, more graduates might choose such a setting for their clinical practices.
Using data from a survey of senior dental students, researchers compared students in Pipeline schools to those in non-Pipeline schools and found:
- In 2003 Pipeline and non-Pipeline schools had similar weeks of extramural clinical rotation (7.1 and 6.4).
- In 2007 the reported number increased to 8.4 weeks for Pipeline students compared to 6.6 weeks for non-Pipeline students.
- The effect of Pipeline status was much greater if the school had a limited extramural program at baseline.
- Neither school nor community characteristics significantly influenced students’ decision to select increased rotation experiences.
To improve interest in graduates providing care to the underserved, dental schools and the profession should focus on the students recruited.