A severe underrepresentation of minority providers persists despite evidence of the benefits of a diverse workforce. The Institute of Medicine’s 2002 report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care recommended improving the diversity of the workforce as a key strategy for combating disparities.
Significant efforts have been put in place in the U.S. in the last decade to improve diversity and cultural competence in the dental workforce, to reduce disparities in access to care and health outcomes, and to better serve minority population’s oral health needs. However, little is known about the current practice patterns or needs of underrepresented minority (URM) dentists.
Healthforce Center, in collaboration with the National Dental Association, the Hispanic Dental Association, the Society of American Indian Dentists, and the American Dental Education Association, has conducted a comprehensive assessment of African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native dentists. This assessment is multi-faceted and includes a national sample survey of URM dentists, qualitative interviews with URM dentists, an ongoing literature scan, and a high level advisory group consisting of key stakeholders and leaders in the field. Dr. Paul Gates, DDS, MBA, Chairman of the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center Department of Dentistry, is a study co-principal investigator.
The purpose of the project is to understand the current capacity of URM dental practices and to hear from minority providers about what future areas of focus are important in supporting and enhancing underrepresented minority dental practices in the U.S. This study will significantly contribute to the advancement of knowledge regarding what factors support URM dentists to have a successful career path as well as how minority providers contribute to the oral health of minority populations.