alexa The Impact of Dental School Admissions Processes on the Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Student Body
ISSN: 2247-2452

Oral Health and Dental Management
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Research Article

The Impact of Dental School Admissions Processes on the Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Student Body

 
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Abstract

“The Impact of Dental School Admissions Processes on the Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Student Body” In 2000 the US Surgeon General’s released a report which compiled compelling evidence that the United States was facing a silent epidemic of oral disease. Since the release of that report, studies have continued to verify that there is an increasing rise in oral health disparities among specific segments of the US population, with some populations having low –income, behavioral impairments or physical disabilities and many residing in rural areas. These disparities are most profound for low-income African American and Hispanic populations. Many approaches have been suggested to eliminate oral health disparities, and it is likely that many of them will need to be implemented together if significant progress is to be achieved. Among the suggestions is the recommendation for a more diverse workforce, given that patients are more likely to seek health care and receive higher levels of satisfaction from those providers of similar backgrounds or ethnicity. Similarly a long standing method of selecting student thru the traditional admissions process based mostly on standardized test scores has also hindered the ability of programs to create a diverse student body which will more likely work with those in-need populations and address oral health disparities. Faced with these challenges and in alignment with the overall University of Washington mission of a commitment to diversity and in an effort to address the access of health care crisis, in 2004 the University of Washington, School of Dentistry (UWSOD) implemented a whole-file review process in the selection of its dental students. The current study compares demographic and academic characteristics of students matriculating into the dental school classes between 2006 and 2008 (Traditional Review) to those from classes entering between 2009 and 2011 (Whole-File Review). The gender composition of the two groups was similar under both admissions processes (Traditional = 35% female, Whole-File = 39% female; p = N.S.). Likewise, the mean age was the same for both groups (24 years). The number of historically under-represented minority students tended to be higher in the Whole-File group, particularly for those self-identifying as Hispanic and Native American (χ2=9.70, p <0.09). Average Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores of matriculating students were similar between groups (Traditional= _21.0_, Whole-File= _20.9_; p=N.S.). However, the Reading score, was slightly lower in the Whole-File group compared to the Traditional group (21.8 vs. 21.2, respectively; t (327) =1.99, p<0.05). More students with a DAT Academic Average less than 18 were admitted in the Whole-File group compared to Traditional group (0 vs. 9, χ2=9.20, p <0.001). The predental grade point average was similar between groups (Traditional=3.59, Whole-File=3.54, p=N.S). In summary, Whole-File review tended to result in the selection of a more ethnically and racially diverse student body, with only slight changes to academic parameters as calculated on an average basis. The results of this study suggest that Whole-File review as implemented at the University of Washington, School of Dentistry is a valuable tool for increasing the diversity of students admitted to dental school and its effects on academically-based admissions criteria are negligible

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