March 2004

Volume 24 | Number 1

Special Theme: Dentistry

Dentistry — A Unique Profession
Eugene Sekiguchi (ADA President)
James Bramson (ADA Executive Director)

Careers in Dentistry — A View from Dental Education
Paula K. Friedman (ADEA President)

A Message from the ASDA President
Joshua Ries

A Report from the NAAHP Liaison to the American Dental Association
C. Larry Sullivan, Ph.D.

Predental Clubs Help to Prepare Students for Dental School
Anne Wells, Ed.D.

Three-fourths of those who sought admission to dental school in 2002 did not start their undergraduate studies intending to become dentists. As Dr. Wells points out, a pre-dental club not only supports those who have an interest in dentistry, but also provide opportunities for students to learn about the profession. This article lists resources available to advisors and pre-dental students who want to begin a club. These include: the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) and the Student National Dental Association (SNDA). Students belonging to ASDA and SNDA have access to newsletters, mentoring, and the ASDA Handbook titled Getting into Dental School. SNDA specifically “seeks to improve disparities in dental manpower by nurturing and supporting minority pre-dental and dental students…"In addition to exposing students to information, those involved in pre-dental clubs can develop leadership skills while retaining a focus on academics.

The ASDA Advantage
Katherine A. Dwyer

The American Student Dental Association (ASDA) reaches out to current dental students, those who have graduated from dental school, international members, and pre-dental students. ASDA members take an active role in influencing policies of the American Dental Association (ADA). The organization is active in working to improve exam procedures, reduce student loan indebtedness, improve curriculum, and address licensure qualifications. For the pre-dental student ASDA provides an opportunity to learn about dentistry, keep current on issues affecting the profession, and connect with others who have similar vocational interests. Health professions advisors “often play a crucial role by encouraging school support for students participating in ASDA.” For advisors, involvement with an ASDA chapter is also a way to gain information and stay current with what is happening with dental school admissions and in dentistry.

The Admissions Process: A Primer for Advising Pre-Dental Students
Anne Wells, Ed.D.

This article provides basic information for those advising pre-dental students. It is a good review for the experienced advisor and a valuable guideline for those beginning advising. Topics covered include: Factors in Considering Dental Schools; Applying to Dental School; Factors in the Selection Process; and Important Tips in the Admissions Process. A series of questions, which are among those considered by admissions committees when reading applications can be used as a checklist during advising appointments.

Financing Your Dental Education
Gina G. Luke, B.S.
Anne Wells, Ed.D.

Although the reported costs of dental school education will change, undoubtedly rising, the review of student aid programs provides a solid reference for pre-health advisors. Types of aid programs listed include: federal and institutional loans; the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program; and NIDCR short term awards. Additionally, the author emphasizes that pre-dental and dental school students should keep good financial records and maintain good credit.

Model Programs/Resources to Attract Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) into Dentistry
Jeanne Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Sonja G. Harrison, B.A.

Minority enrollment statistics, from 1994 to 2002, are presented in tables that make comparisons easy. The following statement, however dramatically captures the scope of the problem: “The entire applicant pool for African American students has been less than 500 students per year for the past twenty years.” The authors then describe three model programs, as well as additional resources of which advisors should be aware. These include ADEA Regional Workshops for pre-dental advisors and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) Research and Career Development Programs.

Academic Dentistry
Richard R. Ranney, D.D.S.

Explaining “academic dentistry” as the repository for building and testing the specialized knowledge unique to the field, Dr. Ranney gives the reader an understanding of the different ways in which dental school faculty contribute to this endeavor. Teaching and research are important activities, but so is service. Dental school faculty members are consultants to local, state, and federal agencies. They administer and direct programs. In addition to involvement in a professionally stimulating environment, health insurance plans, tuition benefits for family members, and retirement plans help compensate for what may seem like “an income differential between those in academic/research careers and those in private practice.” Dr. Ranney encourages students to pursue a career in this area. He assures us they will be “welcomed into the academy.”

The Need for Enhanced Oral Public Health Education and State Infrastructure
Stanton Wolfe, D.D.S., M.P.H.

A neglected epidemic in the United States, dental decay affects all children, but those who are economically disadvantaged are far more likely to have untreated dental disease. Because the problem is so widespread with increasing costs for individual persons as well as for society, Dr. Wolfe advocates instituting a comprehensive public health approach involving government, dental care providers and consumers. Current levels of funding for both education and treatment are inadequate to deal with the crisis. Two short-term goals are: “the development of health coalitions” and “the enhancement of health education in dental and medical schools to create the accessible, culturally sensitive, healthcare network able and willing to provide” all people with the services needed.

Dentistry Career Options: Something to Smile About
Beverly Skoog, M.A.
Diane Boehm

While 80 percent of practicing dentists are general practitioners, and most of these are in private practice, numerous other options are open for those entering dentistry. These include: academic dentistry, research, public health dentistry, international health care, hospital dentistry, and military dentistry. Dentistry is an attractive career because new graduates and as well as practicing dentists have opportunities to move into specialties or one of the options listed above. In addition to outlining different career paths, the authors interviewed dentists and asked them why they choose dentistry, if they had a mentor and how they thought college advisors might best assist students. The last two pages of the article are the excerpted responses of the dentists.


Viewpoints

International Medical Schools for US Citizens: Considerations for Advisors and Prospective Students
Paul J. Crosby, M.A.
Robert E. Cannon, Ph.D.

The authors explain terms, provide statistics and recommend a series of questions students and advisors should ask preparatory to the student applying to a “foreign,” “international” or “off-shore” medical school. This article is indispensable for advisors who counsel students considering medical school outside the United States.

The exact number of U.S. students who enroll in international medical schools is not known, but in 2002 the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) “issued 1,427 certificates to candidates who were U.S. citizens at the time they entered medical school in another country. ”The route to licensure via an international medical school is not an easy journey. Students should be prepared to assume extra financial costs, face challenging living conditions and potentially have fewer learning resources. Additionally, the authors caution prospective students and recommend a thorough investigation of the school prior to making a commitment to enroll. Not all foreign medical schools provide students with the foundation to take Step 1 of the USMLE, gain clinical skills and pass subsequent licensure exams. Some foreign medical schools have operated as little more than “diploma mills that sell medical degrees while providing little or no education or training. ”Asking tough questions about oneself as an applicant and about the school can help students desiring to take this route avoid costly mistakes.

The Educational Experiences of US Citizens Who Graduate from International Medical Schools
John Norcini, Ph.D.
President and CEO of the Foundation for International Medical Education and Research

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) was created because little was known about the international medical schools. Medical schools in the U.S. undergo a rigorous accreditation process and are associated through AAMC, an organization which “seeks to improve the nation’s health by enhancing the effectiveness of academic medicine” (see www.aamc.org).

International Students and Medical Education: Options and Obstacles
Edward J. Miller, M.A.
Joni Huff, M.A.

Of the 16,538 students who matriculated to U.S. medical schools in 2003 only 82 were international students, 539 international students applied. As the authors note, significant obstacles exist for those students who are not U.S. citizens, yet wish to obtain a medical education in the United States. This article provides information for advisors on how they might counsel the undergraduate pre-med who is classified as an international student. Additionally, the authors discuss the special situation of Canadian citizens. School policies vary and “Canadian students have been admitted to medical schools that state they do not accept applications from foreign students.” Advisors should be informed about the issues international students will confront and about the policies of individual medical schools. The 7th edition of the Premedical Advisor’s Reference Manual (PARM) is a good place to start. Additionally, advisors might want to read the statement titled “Special Note to International Students Intending to Study Medicine” which can be found on the Yale University Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ website (www.yale.edu/admit/international/application/index.html).

Book Review: Death of the Good Doctor: Lessons from the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic
Book by Kate Scanell, M.D.
Review by Laurence A. Savett, M.D.

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