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Access, Diversity and Inclusion — November 2013

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A year-long program focusing on community-based oral health education and the recruitment of culturally diverse students, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute (NLI) program recently convened for its capstone meeting at the 2013 ADEA Fall Meetings in Oklahoma City, OK, October 24–26, 2013.

The program is led by the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Key discussion topics at the 2013 ADEA Fall Meetings included lessons learned in the past year, future implications and a focus on how the oral health system is changing and its potential impact on access and diversity.

Community-based dentistry has answered the call to provide access to dental care for America’s underserved populations; such populations suffer in the growing epidemic of oral health disparities. The presence of dental students engaged in community-based education activities contributes to care for patient populations in greatest need.

The NLI program had many successes, small and large, and for those participants attending the meeting, many found support and teaching very beneficial at the in-person meetings organized by the ADEA Access, Diversity and Inclusion portfolio. In fact, many pipeline participants kept in contact with each other beyond the meetings, which proved to be a good support network. Schools were able to accomplish much, even with modest funding support.

The original RWJF Dental Pipeline program, funded from 2001 to 2010, was in dental schools mostly concentrated on the East and West Coasts of the United States, and the NLI program is yielding dental school/community partnerships emerging in the country’s midsection in both the first and second cohort of trainees. The second cohort recently participated in an in-person training in San Francisco and will participate in community-based dental education and diversity recruitment activities, along with five webinars on assessing cultural change, sustaining efforts—grant writing, increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty in dental specialty education programs, leveraging resources to parent institutions to strengthen the dental schools’ efforts and financing a dental practice.

The following dental schools/community partners have been chosen for the 2013–14 program: The University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine/Ft. Lewis College; Indiana University School of Dentistry/Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation; University of Louisville School of Dentistry/Central High School-Dental Magnet; University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Dentistry/Latinos of Tomorrow/Greater Kansas City Collaborative; The Ohio State University College of Dentistry/Glen Oak High School; Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health/San Francisco State University; Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry/Black United Fund of Oregon; Tufts University School of Dental Medicine/Increasing Diversity in Dentistry (IDID) Institute Corp.; East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine/North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; and Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine/Health Legacy of Cleveland.