ADEA CCI Liaison Ledger

Summer 2016: Holistic Review

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In 2014, Urban Universities for HEALTH released a report as part of a national study on university admissions practices in the health professions. Among its findings: Dental schools led the health professions, with 93% self-reporting that they used holistic review to evaluate candidates for admission. This finding was heartening news that affirmed ADEA’s investment (supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) in training admissions committees to look beyond quantitative measures when considering which students to admit to their programs.

Yet despite this progress, many schools still struggle to achieve appropriate levels of racial, ethnic and other diversity in their student body in support of their institutional mission. As April’s observance of National Minority Health Month reminded us—if we needed reminding—this situation is a serious problem. Increasing the proportion of underrepresented demographic groups in the health professions is seen as a key strategy for reducing health disparities, and progress won’t happen unless our schools start admitting and enrolling more students from these groups.

In this issue of the Ledger, we learn about how three dental schools are implementing holistic review and about the impact this practice is having on the diversity of their student bodies.

In our Guest Perspective, Drs. Venita Sposetti and Pamela Sandow—both at the University of Florida College of Dentistry—describe the events that awakened them to the value of holistic review. Then in two Campus Spotlights, we visit the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, which manages to review 3,000 applications every year for 140 spots in its first-year class, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, which has been especially successful at recruiting and enrolling African-American students.

This issue of the Ledger also contains:

  • Free resources on holistic review that you can access to alter or enhance your admissions process.
  • Links to scholarly research on our featured topic.

As you may have heard, ADEA is once again accepting requests for the holistic review admissions workshops it pioneered more than a decade ago to help dental schools achieve greater student body diversity. These half-day training sessions are offered on site and are intended to provide technical assistance to the entire admissions committee and other key leaders at your institution. You can learn more about the workshops on our website.

As always, feel free to share a link to this issue with your colleagues and use the comment fields following each article to continue the dialog. We’re eager to hear your views.

Anthony Palatta, D.D.S., Ed.D., ADEA Chief Learning Officer

2016 ADEA CCI Liaisons Summer Meeting
June 7–9, 2016
Hilton New Orleans Riverside
New Orleans, LA

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry

University of Florida College of Dentistry

Transforming Admissions: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Diversity in Dental Schools

Incorporating Holistic Review in Admissions Practices: Resources

Urban Universities for HEALTH. Holistic admissions in the health professions: findings from a national survey, September 2014. 

Sedlacek WE. Beyond the big test: noncognitive assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

William Sedlacek website

Buford S, Sandow P, Wallet S, Howard D, Dilbone D, and Weinstein G. Combining non-cognitive and cognitive assessments to evaluate dental school success. J Dent Educ 2016. 80:213.

Open Courseware Resources

Presentations From Past ADEA CCI Liaisons Summer Meetings (2010–15)

ADEA CCI White Papers in the Journal of Dental Education

Educational Sessions From Past ADEA Annual Sessions (2010–15) 

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