Growth in dental school enrollment highlights need for new standards

November 22nd, 2013

The growing popularity of oral health education programs throughout the U.S. has made it increasingly important for academic institutions to invest in high-quality dental school software tools. As more students pursue careers in dentistry, the federal government and related industry organizations will place closer scrutiny on controlling both the quality and effectiveness of universities across the nation.

According to Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, which combines Indiana's top two public academic institutions in one campus, there are more than 50,000 students currently enrolled in some form of dental, allied-dental or advanced oral health care program in the U.S. In fact, the total number of these schools has grown to nearly 1,500 in recent years.

Keeping oral health programs in line with industry developments
These trends have paved the way for an increase in standards for dental education. Partly as a response to a growing interest in oral health careers, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced it was renewing the status of a national industry organization as an official accrediting body. In a press release, IUPUI said the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which examines and standardizes the quality of academic programs in the country, will continue operating through 2017 under this latest extension. The organization also named current IU School of Dentistry Dean John Williams as the new chair of the commission.

This latest announcement comes at a time when the dental industry is adapting to new changes at a rapid pace. The CDA has even updated its accreditation standards in recent years to reflect many of the changing roles of dentists, dental hygienists and other oral health care professionals.

"IU was the first dental school in the country to be reviewed in an updated system that includes the commission's introduction of several new standards in dental education, including a commitment to a humanistic culture and learning environment that is regularly evaluated," university officials stated.

A recent report from the ADA also highlighted new standards for universities that offer career development for people interested in becoming dental assistants. Known as the Accreditation Standards for Dental Assisting Education Programs, the goals of these new rules include protecting the patient population of the U.S., inspiring schools to invest in advanced technology and creating an overall guide for academic institutions that are struggling to prepare students for an increasingly volatile and high-tech professional landscape.

Preparing for new standards with advanced technology
One of the most reliable ways for university administrators to ensure their programs are up to speed with new accreditation standards is to implement high-quality dental software systems to streamline the student management process. Not only can these tools make it easier for faculty and staff to keep track of grades and other performance indicators, but they can integrate seamlessly with existing clinical operations as well. Many academic institutions waste valuable time and resources managing information through separate software systems. Educators can devote more time to improving the classroom experience by investing in the right enterprise management technology. 

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