ditional specialty residencies unless warranted by shortages of services that cannot be provided effectively by other personnel.

To permit faculty hiring and promotion practices that better reflect educational objectives and changing needs, the committee recommends that dental schools and their universities supplement tenure-track positions with other full-time nontenured clinical or research positions that provide greater flexibility in achieving teaching, research, and patient care objectives.

To improve the availability of dental care in underserved areas and to limit the negative effects of high student debt, Congress and the states should act to increase the number of dentists serving in the National Health Service Corps and other federal or state programs that link financial assistance to work in underserved areas.


The education of future practitioners is the central mission of dental schools. The content and method of dental education have been the subject of many criticisms over the years related to the weak links between basic science and clinical education or experience, the overcrowded dental curriculum, and the isolation of faculty both individually and collectively from the world beyond departmental boundaries. Linkages between dentistry and medicine are weaker than the nature of oral health problems and the growth of medically oriented interventions warrant. Problems remain in implementing comprehensive patient-centered care. The persistence of these problems testifies to the difficulty of change. Although the next two chapters of this report catalog yet more problems in the areas of research and patient care, their recommendations focus on steps that would address not only those problems but also some identified in this chapter. For example, greater research involvement by clinical faculty would almost certainly reinforce the links between basic science and clinic education, and revitalization of the patient care mission would likewise help make clinically current and patient-centered education a reality.

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