Nevin Manimala Statistics

Slipping through the cracks: Just how underrepresented are minorities within the dental specialties?

J Public Health Dent. 2022 Mar;82 Suppl 1:53-62. doi: 10.1111/jphd.12520.


OBJECTIVE: There is a lack of diversity in the dental workforce. Efforts to enhance underrepresented minority (URM) recruitment and retention within dental school exist, but little effort has been made to track URM providers through education and practice. This study assesses the status of workforce diversity in the dental specialties and the predictors of URM dentist specialization.

METHODS: The primary data used were a 2012 national sample survey of Hispanic/Latino (H/L), Black, or American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) dentists in the US, supplemented by publicly available workforce data. Descriptive and multivariate statistical analyses were performed to describe the demographic composition of URM clinical general and specialist dentists and analyze changes in proportions of URMs specializing among age cohorts, differences in specific type of specialization, and racial concordance between specialists and their patients.

RESULTS: The pathway continues to winnow with fewer URM dentists in specialty practice. Among all URM clinical dentists being first in his/her family to obtain a college degree, having a strong desire to work in his/her own cultural community or joining a loan repayment program due to debt load independently predicted lower odds of specialization. Alternatively, being initially foreign trained as a dentist and valuing professional training were independently predictive of higher odds of specialization.

CONCLUSION: The lack of diversity within the dental specialties is a critical flaw in our education and care delivery systems demanding clear actions toward improving the pathway into residency programs for URM students.

PMID:35726471 | DOI:10.1111/jphd.12520

By Nevin Manimala

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