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J Natl Med Assoc. 2002 Jun;94(6):492-504.

Professional motivation and career plan differences between African-American and Caucasian dental students: implications for improving workforce diversity.

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Department of Periodontics, Endodontics, and Dental Hygiene, University of Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.


Vast disparities in oral health status coupled with projected decreases in African Americans enrolling in and graduating from dental school have heightened concern about the underrepresentation of African Americans in the dental profession. The purpose of this study was to explore differences between African-American and white American students regarding demographics, professional motivations, and career plans. African-American (n = 104) and white American (n = 226) dental students completed a biographical data survey instrument, which included information about family background and professional motivations and plans, and rated descriptions of three practice arrangements. African-American students were more motivated to become a dentist to serve the public, plan to specialize, work in an urban area, and work part-time. White American students were more motivated to become a dentist based on factors related to family commitments. Race was a significant predictor for student ratings for both solo and employee practice. Study results have implications for health professions educators, administrators, and policy makers in their efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of African-American students, shape dental curricula to meet diverse student needs, and implement loan forgiveness programs to enhance minority student recruitment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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