Evolution of diversity education in a California dental school

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Publication Title

American Journal of Public Health



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In response to demographic and societal changes as well as shifts within dental education and dentistry, UOP School of Dentistry has developed educational experiences in diversity to grow culturally competent beginning practitioners. In 1990, Pacific instituted an International Dental Studies program, which began exposing faculty and students to different cultures and views. Courses in ethics and the treatment of mentally and physically disabled patients were added to the curriculum. The patient health history form was translated into 10 languages. An Equity and Diversity Group was formed in 2001 to further the discussion of differences. The EDG has co-sponsored school-wide panel discussions and events on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender issues, the Middle East, generational differences, and hate crimes. A new student position, the Liaison to the Associated Student Body for Multicultural Awareness, has been created. School celebrations are planned to commemorate black history month, Persian New Year, and other religious, ethnic and regional celebrations. Cultural competency has been a major component of three faculty development sessions. Many faculty and staff have presented diversity-based programs at national dental meetings. The school has also established clinics to provide care to populations of difference (patients living with AIDS, sex workers, patients with special needs, and rural and underserved communities in Northern California). Together these activities represent a 220% increase in cultural and diversity-related events and programming. The school expects an increase in the number of culturally centered events to result in a more diverse and culturally sensitive provider population better able to serve patients.

Learning Objectives:

Provide steps for development of a diversity education program

Provide concrete examples of media and events used in evolution of a diversity program

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