Long-Term Outcomes of a Dental Postbaccalaureate Program: Increasing Dental Student Diversity and Oral Health Care Access
The University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry established the Dental Postbaccalaureate Program in 1998 to provide reapplication assistance to students from economically and/or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds who were previously denied admission to dental school. The goals were to increase diversity in the dental school student population and improve access to dental services for underserved populations. This article assesses the program’s short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes and is the first to examine long-term practice patterns after a dental postbaccalaureate program. Data collected on all participant (n=94) demographics, pre/post-program DAT scores, and post-program dental school admission results were used to assess short- and mid-term outcomes. Long-term outcomes and practice patterns were assessed using results of a census survey administered between 2009 and 2011 to the participants who had completed dental school and been in practice for at least two years (n=57). The survey had a response rate of 93 percent (n=53). Descriptive statistical techniques were used to examine the responses and to compare them to U.S. Census Bureau data and nationally available practice data for new dental graduates. Program participants’ DAT scores improved by an average of two points, and 98 percent were accepted to dental school. All survey respondents were practicing dentistry, and 81 percent reported serving underserved populations. These participants treat more Medicaid recipients than do most dentists, and their patient population is more diverse than the general population. The outcomes demonstrate that the program’s graduates are increasing diversity in the dental student population and that their practices are providing access to care for underserved populations.