In FY 1993, the Health Resource Services Administration listed more than 1,000 dental shortage areas in need of over 2,000 dentists. The limitations of the NHSC program as a vehicle for improving access to care in underserved areas are discussed further in Chapter 9. Without greater public funding of this program, it will meet neither the primary goal of improved access nor the important secondary goal of helping students who are not wealthy retain access to dental education.

Quality of Student Life

During site visits, several specific initiatives to improve student instruction and quality of life were cited. Most of these initiatives were also expected to improve the quality of education. Specifically,

  1. upgraded admission standards would avoid the distress created for and by students who are not academically qualified (given available resources and reasonable expectations for special remediation programs) to tackle predoctoral coursework;
  2. revisions in instructional methods would discourage authoritarian and rote teaching, thereby reducing the stress associated with numerical requirements and factual recall;
  3. attempts to rebalance the curriculum would provide more stimulating education and more time to reflect on it; and
  4. efforts to create a sense of community among health professions students and to expand student exposure to the broader offerings of university life would improve the quality of life for dental students.

The second and third of these directions—instructional and curriculum changes—have already been discussed. The fourth area reflects an acknowledgment that although the insularity of most professional schools—and dental schools in particular—has its comforts, isolation can be stifling. The committee was impressed by what it heard of efforts to create a sense of community among health professions students. These efforts are designed, in part, to increase the quality of services and support available to students by pooling library, housing, and other resources or activities and, in part, to enrich student life. Joint teaching of dental and other health professions students is intended to broaden the educational experience and promote the concept of health care as an enterprise involving teamwork and consultation. Enrichment of the dental school experience stretches beyond the health professions

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