ADEA plans to diversify dentists

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) announced this month it had received a $550,457 grant to encourage people from African-American, poor, and other underrepresented groups to become dentists.

ADEA will use the grant, provided by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, to plan a seven-year combined undergraduate and graduate dental curriculum based on one being used by the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education to diversify medical schools.

Students will be recruited from high schools with "dense populations of underrepresented minorities and low income students," says Jeanne Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., director of the ADEA Center for Equity and Diversity "You go where the marbles are."

The students will spend five years in an undergraduate program that provides part of their preclinical training. After two more years at a dental school, they will have all the training required to become dentists.

"Only 5 percent of practicing dentists are African-American," said ADEA President James Q. Swift, D.D.S, in a news release. "And the percentage remains sadly similar for Hispanic dentists and much smaller for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Given the demographic changes in the United States, it is a priority of ADEA to increase the enrollment of [these groups]."

Four educational institutions will participate: Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry in collaboration with the Atlanta University Center. Each will partner with a nearby undergraduate school. For example, the Georgia School of Dentistry will work with Morehouse College.

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