Need for diversity

When we seek medical care, we want to be able to trust our providers and know they understand who we are and our health care needs. When patients don’t see people like them, when their providers have little understanding of the issues they face, they may feel excluded or unable to get the care they seek. 

Yet, despite efforts like the Affordable Care Act, the health care disparities gap continues as does the need for diversity in health care professions like dentistry. In 2016, only 15.2% of the applicants to dental school were from underrepresented minorities (and 50.2% of those applicants were women).

What can make the difference? You. 

If you are someone who is part of an underrepresented minority group and you have an interest in dentistry, you can help contribute to a future where all patients receive the same quality of care and understanding.

When dentists are men and women from all types of backgrounds, when the profession includes a range of ethnicities, it makes the care the profession provides better for everyone.

That’s why the need for underrepresented minorities in dentistry matters.

Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency: A person’s ability to understand and interact with people from cultures and backgrounds other than their own.

Having a diverse dental workforce does not mean that every patient needs to see a provider just like him or her. It’s about cultural competence, the awareness and ability of providers to respond to the sensibilities of patients whose cultures and values may be very different from their own. The idea of cultural competency is crucial when thinking about the makeup of a dental school class. It is important to have a diverse group of students in each class to promote cultural competency. When students work closely with their colleagues from different backgrounds, they are more likely to understand them and therefore become culturally competent practitioners.

If you are reading this and are from an underrepresented minority group, we hope you will consider dentistry as a career. In doing so, you may be able to bring smiles and good health to adults and children in communities across the United States who currently face disparities in health care.