The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has released a statement on the current civil unrest in the nation and emphasized its platform for confronting racism and inequalities in academia and the profession.
“During these painful times for our nation, it seems appropriate to highlight and share ADEA’s values, especially as they relate to our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said ADEA president and CEO Karen P. West, DMD, MPH.
The ADEA said that its platform is necessary:
- To facilitate communication of the ADEA Principles of Diversity and Inclusion through a common language
- To lend support to ADEA’s mission, policies, and programs that promote diversity and inclusion throughout dental, allied dental, and advanced dental education
- To meet the current and expanded role of ADEA in promoting diversity and inclusion now and in the future
“ADEA’s value of diversity is embedded in respect and appreciation of race, color, national, or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion, or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, and perspectives of each individual,” West said.
In its platform, the ADEA said its Board of Directors, faculty, staff, students, and members should resemble the diversity reflected in the nation’s population. It also believes that the number of dental graduates of dental and allied dental programs should reflect their representation in the population and the communities in which they will serve.
Further, the ADEA said, recruitment, retention, and graduation of practitioners from diverse groups are goals that are important to the public’s health. The ADEA further said that it is committed to developing and sustaining institutional environments within the dental education community that are inclusive and supportive of all diverse groups.
Dental education can show leadership, the ADEA said, via different strategies including:
- Continued effort to gain visibility for dentistry and dental education where the mission of diversity and inclusion can be advanced in an interprofessional healthcare environment
- Sponsorship for faculty training and best practices in the creation of an inclusive supportive environment
- Faculty and staff recruitment must visibly announce the institution’s nondiscrimination policy
- Benefit plans should allow same-sex partners to participate in all benefits available to spouses and dependents
- Become recognized as visible partners in the community to foster visibility, engagement, and support
- Enact student support systems to fully support LGBTQ students during their education
- Create an accessible structure for counseling and mental health support for students for all aspects of their gender and sexuality
- Support ongoing conversation for students who may request help in deciding whether or not to become visible in postgraduate applications and other academic milestones
- Support for transgender students who may have medical needs because of transitioning and who may wish to change “gender” on their records
- Include curriculum time devoted to diversity education, including time to teach about the needs of the LGBTQ communities, unique cultural characteristics, and challenges they face in the community via programs such as Safe Zone training to facilitate sensitivity, understanding, acceptance, and cultural competency
- Provide a clinical environment that supports LGBTQ patients by being open, accepting, and culturally competent to manage unique needs
- Engage members of the community to evaluate success in meeting the needs of patients
“The events of this past week have only served to highlight the discriminatory treatment communities of color have suffered for far too long. This latest painful episode comes on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt communities of color, both in terms of lives lost and economic cost,” West said.
“At ADEA, we work toward decreasing health inequalities every day. While we do not have all the answers, we resolve to use compassion and mutual feelings of humanity to ensure we are fostering a culture that acknowledges access, diversity, and inclusion, and we encourage all ADEA member institutions and individuals to do the same,” West said.
“As a profession, and as a nation, we grow stronger the more we embrace diversity and the more we treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve. ADEA wishes all its members and the communities we serve peace and comfort during these difficult times, and we pledge to work with you to help achieve a society free of discrimination and full of opportunity for all,” West said.