Organization and Management of Community-Based Dental Education Programs

Community-based dental education is likely to become an integral part of the dental educational system.

This chapter introduces the first section of this special supplement of Journal of Dental Education on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education (CBDE) program. The issue’s first section analyzes the organization and management of CBDE programs. The authors are experienced dental faculty members who participated in the Pipeline program.

This introduction discusses the history of dental education in the U.S. Topics include: disparities in access to dental care, the nature of community dental clinics and the rationale for community-based dental care.

Key Findings:

  • A 2009 study from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) found that students are spending more time in community clinics and practices—the most significant change in dental school curriculums in 10 years.
  • A decrease in government financial support is straining the resources of state dental schools. When schools increase enrollment to raise revenue, they become overcrowded; community rotations open up more teaching space.
  • A goal of the Pipeline program was to have senior dental students spend an average of 60 days treating underserved patients in patient-centered community clinics and practices.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with the California Endowment, implemented the Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education (CBDE) program in response to a nationwide challenge from the U.S. Surgeon General. The Pipeline program brought dental care to underserved communities and increased dental school enrollment among low-income and minority students.