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New clinical licensure exam under possible development

Honolulu—Having a single national dental licensure examination that does not include human subjects for testing has been a goal for many in the profession, but it's still not a reality.

The 2009 House of Delegates re-visited the issue and subsequently directed an ADA work group to study the possibility of developing a new clinical licensure examination that would evaluate clinical competency, ethics and professionalism without the use of human subjects.

Resolution 26S-1, which calls for the ADA to study the development of a Part Three examination of the National Boards in keeping with ADA policy on Eliminating Use of Human Subjects in Board Examinations (ADA Transactions 2005:335), was referred to a Board of Trustees work group for further study and report to the 2010 House.

ADA President Ronald L. Tankersley said the Board will discuss the issue at its December meeting before a work group is appointed.

"Both the ADA and the American Association of Dental Boards would like to have a single dental licensure exam, and we are slowly making progress toward achieving that goal," said Dr. Tankersley.

"This resolution specifically asks for a work group to study the feasibility of an exam that does not use human patients," he said. "Most states have not adopted an exam that achieves that goal. The work group's ultimate success remains to be seen, but this is certainly another effort to move us toward a single dental licensure exam that does not use human patients."

The ADA has several policies in place that address human subjects and licensure exams. Eliminating the Use of Human Subjects in Board Examinations calls for the ADA to support the elimination of human subjects/patients in licensure exams with the exception of the curriculum integrated format within dental schools, and encourages all states to adopt methodologies for licensure that are consistent with this policy.

The 2007 House approved a definition of the curriculum integrated format of clinical licensure exams that evaluate dental students while they are in dental school during their clinical experiences (2007:389). The policy reaffirms the need for an independent third-party assessment while stating that if live patients are used on exams, they should be patients of record and that treatment should be provided within the school year as part of the normal treatment plan.

In 2000, the ADA House of Delegates passed Resolution 64H-2000 which supported the elimination of human subjects from the clinical licensure exam process by 2005, a goal that was reaffirmed in Res. 20H-2005.