illiteracy, and ethnic diversity (Entwistle, 1992). The importance of an ethical framework to define professional responsibility endures. However, this responsibility might be better defined as a responsibility to provide dental students with innovative, interdisciplinary, and practical instruction on how to think about and interact with different populations in need.


One participant expressed concern about the mindset of dental students in which they are focused on scientific and technological issues as well as the ability of schools to fit societal-related issues into their curricula. Dolan remarked that one challenge may lie within the admissions process, which might consider including assessment of the individual’s commitment to community service. He added that schools need to create opportunities for students to be more socially active. In addition, Dolan stated that the need for sociological education is not solely the responsibility of dental schools, but should be included more at the undergraduate level.

In response to a question about data collection during the admissions process (regarding an individual’s history of community service), Dolan expressed concern about trying to predict future behaviors based on previous experience. He said that even though some students may not, based on their history, seem geared toward community service, opportunities should be provided that would allow that individual to learn about this potentially rewarding career opportunity. Dolan added that to foster more collaboration, professionals in the social sciences also need to learn more about the practical realities of the clinical health professions.

One participant stated that students often have great commitment to social issues but lack demonstration of a similar commitment by their role models, the older generation of oral health professionals. Dolan agreed. The participant added that students who graduate with enormous debt may question why they should be committed to their communities if the profession as a whole is not embracing this commitment. Dolan also agreed with a participant that it is a breach of ethical principles and obligations for professionals to refuse to treat certain subsets of the population.

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