Most rural areas in California have shortages of dentists, and the state has many low-income urban communities with concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities. In response, the California Pipeline Program Phase II was implemented to reduce the disparities in access to oral health care in California. ADEA was then charged in 2007 with leading a three-year evaluation of these efforts and “bridging the gap” between California and national policy issues.
In the evaluation symposium presented at the 2011 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition, best practices of the statewide effort by five California schools provides valuable information for academic dental institutions looking to increase cultural competency, diversity, and student rotations in community-based dental education (CBDE).
During the course of the study, the number of schools without required community-based clinical experiences dropped from 21 to 3, and there was an increase in the number of schools with a core curriculum that includes five or more weeks of required community-based patient care for all students. Also with ADEA’s involvement, the new predoctoral accreditation standards approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) included definitions for community-based education and cultural competence in response to a national policy discussion that arose around the benefits of CBDE for all dental schools.
Each school had a unique effort and progress track, but best practices at both the institutional and clinical levels can be used by all academic dental institutions. Clinics with efforts related to communicating more successfully with non-English speaking patients, including multilingual signage and training for school members, were most successful. Institutional changes included revising mission statements to include diversity and cultural competency and increasing numbers of faculty members with URM backgrounds.
“I think we have to keep in mind when we think about diversity-related avenues and behaviors that deep understanding of these issues can only come if we raise awareness, if we put our students in community-based settings, if we let them work with patients from diverse backgrounds,” said Marita R. Inglehart, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. “We have to give them the knowledge and the skills and we hopefully end up with a workforce in the future that is utterly committed to treating patients, having patient-centered, and genuinely diversity sensitive.“
Dr. Eugene L. Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director and Director, ADEA Center for Educational Policy and Research; Kim D’Abreu, M.P.H., Associate Director, ADEA Center for Educational Policy and Research; Peter J. Robinson, D.D.S., Ph.D., University of Connecticut; Marita R. Inglehart, Ph.D., University of Michigan; and Howard L. Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D., University of Connecticut presented this information at the 2011 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition. Funding was provided by The California Endowment. For more information on this evaluation, click here [link: http://www.adea.org/policy_advocacy/Pages/cppiiEvaluation.aspx] and stay tuned to future issues of the Journal of Dental Education (JDE).