Five students who were professional dentists in their country of origin have started a new 26-month advanced standing International Dentist Program (IDP) at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. As part of Western University’s College of Dental Medicine (CDM), the IDP is designed to award DMD degrees to students who have graduated from dental schools outside of the United States or Canada.
The inaugural class, who started earlier this month, will participate in an intensive 10-week course to expose them to CDM’s curriculum so they can be ready to join fellow second-year dental students in clinical rotations either at the WesternU Health Dental Center or at offsite clinics. Beginning with the summer semester in June, they will be integrated with the rest of the approximately 69 students in the class of 2021.
“These students are impressive people in what they’ve gone through to get here to this country,” said CDM associate dean for clinical initiatives and program development David Lazarchik, DMD. “They can’t practice dentistry in the US and are working as dental assistants, on dental research, or in other areas of the dental industry. Their ultimate goal is to get a DMD degree from the US, pass the clinical board exam, and work as a practicing dentist here.”
CDM said the program provides international visibility as a quality and comprehensive dental program. It also fulfills a need for granting DMD degrees to foreign-trained dentists as recommended by the Dental Board of California, increases the diversity of the student population, and enriches the culture of the college and university. Plus, it bolsters the applicant pool for open faculty positions, said Lazarchik.
About 200 applications were received for the five seats in the program. This year’s students hail from Egypt, Iraq, and India. All students who were accepted are permanent residents or US citizens. Applicants for the class of 2022 have similar requirements pending a mandatory update and approval from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program administered by the US Departments of Homeland Security, Immigration, and Customs Enforcement.
Once approved, the IDP would be able to accept applications from students requiring an F-1 student visa, providing an opportunity for a larger applicant pool.
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