In 1994, the Florida Legislature funded a program at the University of Florida College of Dentistry with support from the Florida Board of Dentistry, Department of Professional Regulation, and the Florida Dental Association, to address the need in the State for educating foreign-born and -trained dentists who had legally immigrated to Florida with the knowledge and skills of U.S. graduates of accredited dental school in order to qualify for state dental licensure. 84% of the 160 program graduates have been Latino.
The two-year highly competitive program has enrolled 12 candidates per year. Their average GPA has been 3.44, and they have all successfully completed both Part I and Part II of the National Board examinations (prerequisites for state dental licensure in the United States). The first year of preclinical and clinical training occurs in Gainesville at the College of Dentistry. During the second, clinical year, the majority of the students train at the dental clinic in Hialeah in Dade County, a community facility that provides dental care to a largely Latino population.
Like traditional four-year dental degree programs, the Internationally Educated Dentist Program provides two distinct and important services. First, this program is training foreign-educated graduate dentists to qualify for dental licensure in the state of Florida. Second, because clinical training involves providing supervised dental and oral health care for patients, the training program-especially at the Hialeah facility but also in Gainesville and at the two other off-site facilities-provides dental care for a diverse (principally Latino) community population. Thus, at any given time, 24 primarily Latino students are enrolled in the program, and as part of their training, they are providing dental treatment for a disproportionately diverse patient population.
The principal measure of program effectiveness is that 100% of graduates have successfully qualified for dental licensure in the state of Florida (all but five practice in Florida). At this time, this rather new program has trained 10% on the Latino dentists practicing in Florida. Further, many of the program graduates serve as part-time faculty at the College's community teaching and service clinics. Thus, an important by-product of the primary mission of the program is that it is producing a more diverse teaching faculty and role models for our students, patients, and the community.