Dental Students' Non-Clinical Learning During Community-Based Experiences: A Survey of U.S. Dental Schools

Patrick D. Smith, Keith A. Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Dental schools use community-based dental education (CBDE) to ensure students gain experience in treating diverse and underserved patient populations. However, it is unclear to what extent schools utilize CBDE experiences to increase students' knowledge of structural factors impacting access to care. The aim of this study was to determine the level and types of non- clinical learning included in CBDE experiences and how that learning is being assessed across U.S. dental schools. This cross- sectional analysis used an 18-item questionnaire distributed to associate deans and CBDE directors at all 66 U.S. dental schools. The questions focused on rotation structure, CBDE objectives, and didactic content for CBDE programs. Representatives from 31 schools—public (71%) and private (29%)—responded, for a 44% response rate. The primary objectives for the community-based rotations were reported to be demonstrating cultural competence in diverse clinical settings (93.1%), addressing access to care (86.2%), and diagnosing and treating oral diseases (75.9%). Of the respondents, 73% reported that their schools supported clinical experiences with non-clinical didactic course work, which addressed access to care (95%), professional responsibility (91%), social determinants of health (86%), the U.S. health care system (77%), health policy (73%), practice management (73%), motivational interviewing (50%), and public presentation training (32%). The results suggest that U.S. dental schools are using CBDE rotations to provide didactic content and assessing students on their knowledge of access to care, social determinants of health, interprofessional practice, and oral health policy. These important aspects of students' education provide additional evidence of the value of CBDE in dental education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1295
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Dental Education Association


  • access to care
  • community-based dental education
  • cultural competence
  • curriculum
  • dental education
  • pedagogy


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