Special Edition of Journal of Dental Education Focuses on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With an eye on fostering positive change, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has released a special edition of its peer-reviewed journal focusing entirely on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in dental education.

The authors of the 23 articles in the September 2022 issue of the Journal of Dental Education not only outline and address the current environment for their topics, but they also provide proposed strategies to effect change. The content is broken down into five main sections:

  • Establishing frameworks for antiracism and structural competency in dental education,
  • Exploring recruitment and admissions practices to increase student diversity,
  • Advancing gender equity and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community,
  • Strategies to increase faculty of color in dental education and
  • Addressing access to oral health care for vulnerable populations

The idea for the special issue sprang from powerful forces reshaping the entire country, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a series of movements promoting social justice, according to Michael S. Reddy, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., JDE Editor and Dean of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry.

“The advent of the pandemic threatened to disrupt the preparing of a health workforce to meet the needs our nation,” he said. “Likewise, it led to a national increase in awareness of social justice gaps and pointed to the opportunity to transform health care education. We were delighted to assemble and highlight the pioneering work of forward-thinking scholars who set a vision for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in dental education.”

Romesh Nalliah, D.D.S., M.H.C.M., JDE Associate Editor and Associate Dean for Patient Services at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said the JDE editors felt compelled to publish this special issue.

“We would be burying our heads in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge that race and racism are critical issues in dental education and dentistry,” he said. “I’m very proud that the Journal of Dental Education is expanding the conversation on this topic with a powerful special issue.”

The issue also includes an association report that provides a summary of an ADEA President’s Symposium on men of color in the health professions. The event was held March 20, 2022 as part of the 2022 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Philadelphia, and reflects a commitment by ADEA President and CEO Karen P. West, D.M.D., M.P.H., to advance diversity and inclusion in dental education.

“With this special edition of JDE, we invited some of our brightest minds to bolster our awareness of the problems we face and the opportunities before us—and to challenge us to do better in making dental education more representative of the rich diversity in our country,” said Dr. West. “I want to extend my deep gratitude to all of the authors for taking the time to share their insights, experiences and expertise.”

The JDE special issue opens with an introduction by Jeanne C. Sinkford, D.D.S., M.S., PhD., FACD, FICD, and Sonya G. Smith, Ed.D., J.D., M.Ed, that details the changes and challenges shaping dental education. Dr. Smith is ADEA’s Chief Diversity Officer and Dr. Sinkford is a renowned scholar, icon and champion of the advancement of women, diversity and health equity in dental education and oral health. She was the first woman to become a dean of a U.S. dental school. Dr. Sinkford is also the ADEA Senior Scholar-in-Residence Emerita and Dean Emerita and Professor Emerita of the Howard University College of Dentistry.

“Our collective efforts will be required to create more inclusive, humanistic, accessible and equitable environments throughout dental education where each person thrives, feels a strong connection and has a sense of belonging,” they wrote.

The JDE special issue is the latest in a series of ADEA projects aimed at bringing a sharper focus—and greater progress—to diversity and inclusion. The association recently completed a ground-breaking climate assessment survey that collected baseline data on diversity, equity and inclusion at U.S. and Canadian dental schools and allied dental education programs. Additionally, ADEA has launched an ambitious Men of Color in the Health Professions Initiative. The project, supported with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to identify solutions that aid in the recruitment, matriculation, retention and graduation of historically underrepresented men in the health professions.

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