Making an impression

Making an impression

By Karen Rhodenizer

The UF College of Dentistry has initiated several programs through the years to increase diversity in the student population with a goal of helping to balance underrepresented populations in the dental profession. The focus has helped — the college now ranks third for the number of enrolled Hispanic students and 17th in the number of black students, among U.S. dental schools.

“Increasing the diversity of our dental classes is important for a number of reasons and one of them is simply that diversity improves the educational experience for everyone in the college,” said Pam Sandow, D.M.D., associate dean for admissions and financial aid.

With annual programs like the Summer Learning Program, the Impressions Program and the Mini-Impressions program, dental students and college administrators have worked with alumni and others to expose a growing number of underrepresented populations to careers in dentistry.

The Summer Learning program is a three-week immersion program for Florida residents from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds or ethnic minority students. The Impressions Program exposes underrepresented pre-dental students to a career in dentistry and the application and financial aid process, and helping make them stronger applicants for dental school.

This year the Student National Dental Association launched the first Mini Impressions Program at UF. An offshoot of the Summer Impressions Program, Mini Impressions targets high school students instead of college students, but the goal is the same — to expose underrepresented minorities to a career in dentistry.