What dental schools can learn from college experiences of American Indian students

Naty Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


American Indians continue to be underrepresented in dental education. They also remain an understudied group. This qualitative study used interviews to explore the positive and negative experiences of thirty American Indian college students studying at a large public university; these students from eighteen tribal nations ranged from eighteen to forty-four years of age. The intent was to identify challenges they face and factors that contribute to their resilience and persistence in their education. Results show that these students deal with issues related to financing their education, absence from family, alienation from friends, large classes, and lack of guidance and direction. A desire for improvement in their personal lives, parental involvement and encouragement, integration into a community of fellow American Indian students, and having a place of meeting and support were reported as contributing to their persistence. Students expressed preferences for smaller classes and closer relations with faculty members, as well as the need for advisors and orientation at the start of college life. To improve their recruitment and retention programs for American Indian students, dental schools should utilize the high value these students place on education and learn to involve their parents and communities in their efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


  • American Indian students
  • Community
  • Dental students
  • Parental involvement
  • Persistence
  • Resilience


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