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J Dent Educ. 2012 Jun;76(6):721-7.

Increasing student diversity and cultural competence as part of Loma Linda University School of Dentistry's service mission.

Author information

1
School of Dentistry, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA. marnett@llu.edu

Abstract

For many years, studies have identified a need for greater racial and ethnic diversity among dental professionals. However, the ability of the field to collectively address the problem has been hindered by the low numbers of underrepresented minority students who apply to dental school. Over the past two decades, college attendance rates have increased and U.S. dental school applications have tripled, but the number of underrepresented minority dental applicants has remained about the same. With the increasing diversity of the U.S. population and specifically that of the state of California, the dental workforce would be enhanced by the presence of more underrepresented minority dentists. Additionally, curricular changes should be implemented to better prepare dental students to meet the oral health care needs of diverse populations. There is general agreement that these workforce and curricular changes would enhance access to care for underserved populations. For seven years, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry participated in the Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program. The first phase of this national program addressed deficiencies in diversity in dentistry and in access to oral health care. In the second phase, Loma Linda University continued to collaborate with other California dental schools on specific state initiatives. This article provides an overview of the school's efforts to enroll a more diverse student body, enhance all its students' cultural competence, and expand care to underserved populations.

PMID:
22659700
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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