Increasing Dental Student Diversity Starts With Admission Committees

Aug 22, 2011, 1:03 PM, Posted by

Although the number of students applying to dental schools has risen in the last decade, the number of minority students has not risen proportionately. Simply increasing the applicant pool does not guarantee that diversity in the student body will increase, because underrepresented students often struggle to compete as the number of applicants increases and other students may have higher grade point averages and Dental Admission Test scores.

In 2005, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Pipeline, Professions, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program, created a workshop program to help dental schools foster admissions practices that increase diversity. To date, nearly half of all U.S. dental schools have hosted the ADEA Admissions Committee Workshop.

Now, to further the reach of these promising practices, with support from RWJF, ADEA has developed a web-based resource to generate discussion among admission committee members and to encourage a more diverse student body. Transforming Admissions: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Diversity in Dental Students includes information on the importance of diversity in higher education and dentistry, tips and discussion topics for admission committees, and data and resources including PowerPoint slides from the ADEA Admissions Committee Workshop.

“We’ve seen from researchers, educators, policy-makers, and even courts that diversity provides a better educational experience for all students and leads to improved access to care,” ADEA President Leo E. Rouse, D.D.S., said in a statement. “This new tool for ADEA members will aid in admissions and accreditation, processes that are absolutely critical to academic dental institutions.”

Read more about the ADEA Transforming Admissions guide.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.