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Coalition focused on dental licensure reform holds inaugural meeting

October 23, 2019

By Kimber Solana

Coalition for Modernizing Dental Licensure meeting
Meeting: Dr. Michael Meru, executive director of the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association, and Nancy Honeycutt, American Student Dental Association executive director, confer during the Oct. 11 inaugural meeting of the Coalition for Modernizing Dental Licensure. 
The Coalition for Modernizing Dental Licensure held its inaugural meeting Oct. 11 at the ADA Headquarters, laying out the framework for its effort in calling for the modernization of the dental licensure process.
The coalition, which includes over 35 organizations to date, has two key goals: Replacing the single encounter, procedure-based patient exams with clinical assessments that have stronger validity and reliability evidence; and increasing the portability of dental licensure among all states for the benefit of both the public and the profession.
“The inaugural meeting was very successful,” said Dr. Joseph P. Crowley, coalition chair and former ADA president. “Our work at the meeting validated and empowered the group as we begin the advocacy work necessary to attain the goals of the coalition.”
The coalition meeting allowed its members and supporters to discuss and help develop its advocacy plan and strategies for licensure reform. In addition, the coalition received updates on the licensure landscape, including the status of the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Clinical Examination that the ADA’s Department of Testing Services is developing for deployment late next year.
The coalition, founded by the ADA, the American Dental Education Association and the American Student Dental Association on Oct. 1, 2018, was formed following the findings and recommendations of the Task Force on Assessment of Readiness for Practice report, which was the culmination of over two years of research, discussion and collaboration among the three organizations.
Licensure is a process all dentists must go through at least once in their professional life in order to practice dentistry. In the U.S., licensure requirements vary from state to state, and all applicants must meet three basic requirements: graduation from an accredited dental education program; a passing grade on the National Board Dental Examinations; and a passing grade on a clinical examination.
The Task Force proposed a modernized process for initial licensure to replace the single encounter, procedure-based patient exams with alternative assessments and examinations. These alternatives include the Objective Structured Clinical Examination; graduation from a CODA-accredited PGY-1 program; or completion of a standardized compilation of clinical competency assessments designed to demonstrate psychomotor skills and practice relevant patient care knowledge, skills and abilities, such as the California hybrid portfolio or a compendium of [Clinical] competency.
Based on the Task Force's findings, the coalition also calls on state dental boards to allow for increased licensure portability and to work at the national level to establish a common core of dentist credentials for licensure that can serve as a basis for licensure compacts among states.
“The coalition’s mission is to ensure patient safety, increase access to care and promote professional mobility,” said Dr. Crowley. “The coalition’s membership is growing weekly; with all these members working together, I am confident we will accomplish our goals.”
To date, in addition to ADA, ASDA and ADEA, over 35 organizations and agencies have signed on to the coalition’s mission, including state dental associations, dental schools, dental specialty organizations, dental student groups and other agencies who support the cause. The coalition’s website,, houses the current list of coalition members and supporters, as well as more information related to licensure reform.