J Contemp Dent Pract. 2023 Oct 1;24(10):729-732. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10024-3585.
AIM: To evaluate how an institution’s values can impact students’ intent to practice in underserved areas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The values of 71 accredited dental schools in the United States were searched and tabulated. The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) survey results were used to tabulate the desire to serve the underserved population before entering dental school and upon graduation. Additionally, responses on the total amount of educational debt on graduation was compiled for LLUSD and all other dental schools. Fisher’s exact test was performed to compare the difference between the two cohorts and Wilcoxon test was used to assess difference within the groups. Tests were conducted at an alpha level of 0.05 with SAS v 9.1.3 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA).
RESULTS: The top five values of US dental institutions based on frequency were excellence, diversity/inclusion, integrity, innovation, and respect. There was no statistically significant difference between LLUSD and all other dental schools in their desire to serve the underserved community upon graduation (p > 0.05, in all instances). Overall, there was a trend that upon graduation, the desire to serve the underserved had less impact on students’ decision-making on their career choices. This drop in the desire to serve the underserved was statistically significant within both cohorts in the year 2021 (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Dental institutions should focus on better understanding of how their values impact their students’ career choices so that they can develop strategies to better align their values with the mission of addressing the dentist shortage in underserved areas.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Dental institutions’ values play a major role in impacting students’ career choices upon graduation and should be assessed using metrics that are measurable.