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Letters: Board exam critique

April 04, 2016 Dentistry, unlike medicine, does not have a postdoctoral requirement that we practice under supervision. For medicine, this supervision allows the profession to monitor the output of their programs and make corrective inputs into those programs to maintain the standards of the profession.

In dentistry, only the state board gives any inkling of what a school's graduating class is capable of ("Using Patients in Board Exams Under Debate in Iowa," Feb. 15 ADA News). The requirements for the board exams are only a shadow of what they were in the past. At least one of the schools in California was having a great deal of trouble getting their students past the board exams. This reflects great weakness in their clinical programs. They lobbied for and got permission from the state of California to license by credential and portfolio. No longer will there be a uniform assessment of this school. A great disservice has been rendered both to the students and the public these students will be serving.

There is no exam that matches working on real teeth in a live patient. Others do not come close. No typodont can ever duplicate the challenges of working on a fellow human being.

I have been practicing for 46 years. The trend in dentistry is to less and less clinical proficiency and practically no lab proficiency. Any large dental lab today will tell you how poor the clinical education of our students has become.

T. Alan Peterson, D.D.S.
Los Altos, California