Posted: March 13, 2013

How Dental School Admissions Practices Impact the Make-up of Students


In 2000 the US Surgeon General's office released a report which compiled compelling evidence that the United States was facing a silent epidemic of oral disease. Since the release of that report, studies have continued to verify that there is an increasing rise in oral health disparities among specific segments of the US population, with some populations having low-income, behavioral impairments or physical disabilities and many residing in rural areas. Many approaches have been suggested to eliminate oral health disparities. Among the suggestions is the recommendation for a more diverse workforce, given that patients are more likely to seek health care and receive higher levels of satisfaction from those providers of similar backgrounds or ethnicity. In alignment with the overall University of Washington mission of a commitment to diversity and in an effort to address the access of health care crisis, in 2004 the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) implemented a whole-file review process in the selection of its dental students. The purpose of this retrospective study was to test the hypothesis that a dental student selection process based on a holistic (i.e., whole file) review results in increased diversity in those matriculating to the School of Dentistry when compared to the more traditional methods that rely primarily on academic performance.

*Presented at 2013 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition


Population Health, Health Equity Research, Diversity, Public Health Sciences, Health Disparities, Whole-File, Holistic


Pollene S. McIntyre, DDS, University of Washington School of Dentistry

Susan E. Coldwell, PhD, University of Washington School of Dentistry

Douglass L. Jackson, DDS, Seattle Children's Hospital

Carol Brown, University of Washington School of Dentistry

Kathleen Craig, University of Washington School of Dentistry