Objectives: As our nation rapidly evolves into a multicultural community, dentists are developing a vital need for cultural competence (CC) training. Although there are many efforts to train dental students in CC, minimal literature suggests the same for active licensed dentists. Thus the author aimed to study the current efforts to train contemporary dentists in CC.
Methods: The continuing education policies of each state dental board were surveyed to determine whether CC courses were required or at the very least accepted for credit. In each state, a racial breakdown of both minority dentists as well as general population minorities was collected. This data was collected for the following racial categories: African-American, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, White, Pacific Islander and Other. The same data parameters were applied for physicians, to compare the progress of dentists to their closely related healthcare providers.
Results: There were zero state dental boards that required CC courses. Two states “specifically” accepted CC courses for continuing education credit. For physicians there were three state medical boards that required CC courses. All states accepted CC courses for continuing medical education credit. The ratio of minority dentists to general population minorities was very low in all fifty states. For minority physicians and general population minorities a low ratio also existed however numbers were a little higher due to a larger supply of minority physicians.
Conclusions: Although they share the same patient pool of minorities, dentists are trailing far behind physicians in CC training. Furthermore, since most dentists cannot receive credit for CC courses this training can be deemed as a burden. If patients are to receive culturally competent dental care in our rapidly evolving and diverse community, then more incentives must be included into policy to support and encourage dental care providers to pursue training in CC.
Keywords: Cultural Competence, Education research, Growth & development and Learning
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research