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Diversity in dentistry: Institute graduates 12, welcomes new class

Since its inception, 20 dentists have completed the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership, a three-part program designed to enhance leadership skills of dentists who belong to racial, ethnic and/or gender backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in leadership roles.

The newest class of 12 dentists attended their first session at ADA headquarters Sept. 8-9, where the class of 2004 unveiled their leadership projects and shared lessons learned during the planning and implementation phases.

To complete the Institute, dentists conduct leadership projects that provide hands-on experience in identifying and taking action on a civic or professional issue of personal importance.

Institute class member Dr. Rosie Roldan saw a severe problem in her community and wanted to do something about it.

A pediatric dentist, Dr. Roldan had seen more than her share of early childhood caries in San Antonio. ECC's prevalence tends to be much higher in low-income families and disproportionately affects Hispanic and African-American children. In San Antonio about half the population is Hispanic. Dr. Roldan estimates that about one-quarter of Hispanic children between age 2 and 4 have untreated disease.

"It's hard to treat a 2-year-old, so I wanted to go back and treat the mother," said Dr. Roldan, a former faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio.

The result is "Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby," a preventive dental care program created by Dr. Roldan as her personal leadership project for the Institute for Diversity in Leadership.

"I learned that a program like Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby didn’t exist because no one wanted it," said Dr. Roldan. "It's just that no one thought of it."

Through her project, she sought to provide dental care for expectant mothers and help them establish a dental home for their families.

The result is a program valued by clinicians and patients—"we had a 100 percent show rate," said Dr. Roldan—and one that improves the health of the community and leaves a legacy for future researchers.

"This project and the Institute were two of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences of my career," said Dr. Roldan, who left Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby to a San Antonio colleague when she took a faculty position at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. "I would do it again in a second."

The ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership is made possible by the ADA Foundation through corporate contributions from Colgate-Palmolive Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble and Sullivan-Schein.

Information and applications on the 2006 Institute will be available in January.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list for Institute application materials when they are available, e-mail starsiaks@ada.org or call the ADA at Ext. 4699.