Foreword to Special Supplement of Journal of Dental Education

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), prefaces this special issue of the Journal of Dental Education on RWJF's Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community Based Dental Education.

Over the past 35 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has funded many projects to improve access to dental care. Yet people who have low incomes, who are disabled or live in rural areas still have less access to care and poorer dental health than their wealthier urban and suburban counterparts.

To begin to address dental access disparities and the shortage of underrepresented minorities attending dental school and practicing, RWJF established the Pipeline, Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program in 2001. The five-year program focused on increasing enrollment of African-American, Hispanic and Native American dental students and on enriching educational programs to prepare students to care for patients from diverse populations.

The success of the program and the positive response of the dental education community led to expansion of the Pipeline program, including grants to additional schools. Now the challenge is to more broadly expand community dental education and minority recruitment programs.

This supplement to the Journal of Dental Education provides practical advice from Pipeline program co-directors on how to best manage community education and minority recruitment programs. The information also applies to other health professions schools and to other health care providers as the larger health care community must participate in improving oral health as part of improving health and health care.