The changes announced in 2009 in the reporting of National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) scores (becoming pass/fail in 2012) placed a focus on the postdoctoral admissions process. Advanced education program directors will face new challenges in the always-critical process of screening applicants and selecting the best candidates for their programs.
In response, ADEA initiated the ADEA Future of Advanced Dental Education Admissions (ADEA/FADEA) Project to offer guides and tools for navigating the postdoctoral dental education admissions environment. The goal of ADEA/FADEA is to identify the best ways to review, compare, and select candidates for advanced dental education programs. On an ongoing basis, it will identify best practices in admissions and assess the value of all inputs into admissions decision making (including not just test results, but also grades, letters of evaluation, class rank, and personal qualities).
The foundation of the ADEA/FADEA project is research among postdoctoral program directors. In 2010, ADEA/FADEA conducted a survey of all postdoctoral program directors, collecting data on current admission practices and perceptions about the value of existing and possible new factors in the process. There were 714 postdoctoral program directors surveyed, with a total of 385 respondents (54% response rate). As a result, for each dental specialty and for general dentistry, ADEA was able to identify the top five traits shared by successful candidates and the process by which program directors review, rate, and select candidates. These are now used to shape professional evaluations collected in the 2012 ADEA PASS application cycle, for better targeting by both evaluators and program directors.
Another addition for the 2012 ADEA PASS application cycle is a required multidimensional applicant assessment that gives reliable information on the noncognitive factors program directors identified as crucial. The ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI) is a web-based evaluation system where up to five evaluators the applicant has selected rate him or her on personal characteristics. ETS then creates an ETS ® PPI Evaluation Report that incorporates the evaluations and comments from all evaluators and is included in the ADEA PASS application sent to advanced dental education programs the applicant designates.
Inclusion of the ETS® PPI is a pilot program for the 2012 application cycle that will be assessed for its effectiveness in advanced dental education admissions, as will other ADEA/FADEA-suggested modifications.
At an initial meeting of stakeholders on May 18, 2010, more than 40 attendees representing advanced dental education program directors, dental education administrators, predoctoral and advanced dental education students, and ADEA officers and staff explored current and future challenges in advanced dental education admissions. Attendees of this meeting were selected by the ADEA Council of Hospitals and Advanced Education Programs (ADEA COHAEP), dental specialty organizations, and the American Dental Association (ADA).
Findings and best practices will be further developed at the ADEA Summit on Advanced Dental Education, taking place at the ADEA Fall 2011 Meetings