Dental Public Health Post-Graduate Trainees in the US: Experiences, Challenges, and Opportunities—A Qualitative Study


Sepideh Banava, Enihomo Obadan-Udoh, and Elizabeth Mertz

September 25, 2021

The goal of this study was to explore challenges and opportunities that dental public health (DPH) residents and recent graduates experienced during and after their residency training programs in the US. In this qualitative study, to recruit participants, study invitations were distributed to 93 DPH postgraduate trainees via social media, email, and an online DPH nationwide course in 2019. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted through Zoom audioconference. The interviews were conducted until thematic saturation was achieved. The audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and crosschecked to ensure accuracy. The interviews were coded using grounded theory. A qualitative analysis software (ATLAS.ti 8.0) was used to facilitate coding and organizing data extraction from transcripts.

Eighteen DPH postgraduate trainees from 12 DPH residency programs participated and completed the interview. DPH trainees had experienced educational and financial challenges, difficulty finding DPH-related jobs after graduation, and a complex board examination preparation process. DPH postgraduate trainees and especially foreign-trained dentists experienced serious challenges during and after their postgraduate residency programs. Opportunities exist to enhance the strength of DPH programs to build a competent DPH workforce.