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Opportunities in Dentistry for Women and Minorities

Minorities In Dentistry

While there has been a substantial decrease in the total applicant pool to dental school, the minority applicant pool, on the other hand, has increased. Thus, for 1996–97, a total of 5,470 out of 16,570, or about 33% of all students enrolled in dental schools in the United States were minority group members. The breakdown among minority groups for first-year enrollees is about 24% Asian, 4.9% Hispanic, 5.9% African-American, and 0.6% Native American. Within these four groups, the enrollment of the first three has gone down a little over the past year and that of Asian students has increased slightly. This suggests that minority enrollment may be leveling off. The minority enrollment for freshmen for 2000–01 in each of the dental schools is given in Table 20.1.

Minority Recruitment in Dental Schools

To help improve the proportion of minority students represented in the dental schools, special recruitment and retention efforts are employed by many schools. The following are some of the approaches used by dental schools to enhance recruitment and retention of minority and disadvantaged students.

  1. Recruitment extends into high schools and community centers, using seminars and workshops to inform prospective students of the opportunities that are available.
  2. Contacts are developed and maintained with prospective applicants by means of college campus visits and communicating with predental advisors and other relevant faculty members.
  3. In some cases application fees are waived.
  4. Prematriculation orientation programs are frequently offered for from two to ten weeks during the summer. As part of such a program, learning skills, test-taking methods, and training to improve study habits and note-taking abilities may be offered.
  5. Prematriculation summer programs in dental anatomy, histology, or biochemistry are offered by some schools to lighten the freshman-year load.
  6. Students may be assigned special faculty and/or upper-class student advisors. Personal professional counseling may also be offered.
  7. Students may be provided with tutorial assistance when necessary.
  8. Students may be permitted to extend their educational program to five instead of four years, thereby lightening their load each semester by one or two courses.
  9. Individual teaching utilizing audiovisual learning modules may be offered.
  10. Special scholarship and loan funds may be provided.

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