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University of Colorado Denver

University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine

Diversity and Inclusion

Outreach Initiatives and Programs

Hands-on career exploration during a recent school visit

The School of Dental Medicine aims to improve access and quality of oral health care to historically underserved communities by expanding a more diverse dental workforce. Our Dental ARCH (Achieving Readiness for Careers in Health) program, one of our primary outreach initiatives, provides exposure to dentistry through hands-on career exploration in a comprehensive pipeline, serving students in grades K-16 and at the post-baccalaureate level. ARCH programs build a bridge from curiosity to career, and for some participants, our programs may be the defining step needed before applying for admission to a dental school program.

The Need for a Pipeline to Dentistry:

Did you know that only 6% of the nation’s dentists are African American, Hispanic American, or Native American? These underrepresented minorities (URMs), which collectively constitute about 30% of the US population, must become more integrated into the healthcare workforce if we are to address disparities in access and quality of health care. Diversity in the health professions is not only linked to improved access and quality of health care for racial and ethnic minorities, it also results in an increased educational experience for students of these health professions.

The School of Dental Medicine's Dental ARCH program is focused on creating a pipeline to dentistry by expanding the recruitment of URM students and students from medically underserved communities. In doing so, we seek to enhance the oral health care outcomes in Colorado by preparing dentists who are represent the state’s demographics and who are armed with the cultural competency training necessary to care for an increasingly diverse population.

Our Partners:

We know that our K-12 teachers, administrators, and other education specialists are at the forefront of the work to prepare students for academic and career success. Actively collaborating with our partners has allowed us to develop effective programming for our Dental ARCH pipeline. Some of our school district partners include Aurora Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, Douglas Country Public Schools, Harrison School District 2 in Colorado Springs. We are also actively involved in HOSA: Health Occupations Student Association.

Our Programs:

Our Dental ARCH programs attract students at all levels of the educational pipeline, from Kindergarten through College. At each educational level we seek to promote an awareness of oral health, enthusiasm for dentistry, understanding of the career path, and complete academic preparedness. While we are constantly expanding our programming, some of our outreach has included the following:

  • Classroom Oral Health Presentations: Dental students in their third year of dental school are visiting area schools to present to local K-12 students about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and the path to a career in dentistry.
  • School/group visits to the Anschutz Medical Campus: Every month, over 100 local middle and high school students visit the School of Dental Medicine where they engage in a dental student panel as they learn about the steps that it takes to become a dentist. Then through hands on sealant, drilling, or impression activities, students experience dentistry hands-on and learn about the science and art that are involved in the rewarding profession.
  • Dental School Tours: Did you know that the School of Dental Medicine host over 80,000 patients each year? Through regularly scheduled tours, prospective students, parents, and community members visit the School of Dental Medicine to see first-hand the patient-driven educational experiences available to a CU Dental student. Upon conclusion of the tour, students interested in applying to dental school have the opportunity to visit the Admissions Office to direct their questions about preparing for admission.
  • Career Fair Participation and Presentations: We believe that it is critical for students to develop career awareness at a young age. The School of Dental Medicine participates in Career Fairs and Career Days at middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the state. Through one-on-one conversations with our students, we are able to help guide students understanding of what a career in dentistry entails and what steps students must take in order to begin preparing to be competitive applicants to dental school.
  • Anschutz Medical Campus Pipeline: The Anschutz Medical Campus hosts a variety of K-12 Pipeline events in which students and faculty from the School of Dental Medicine participate. Participating students have expressed a strong interest in the health professions, and these events help guide students to see what sets dentistry apart from other professions. 

Impact of Pipeline Programs:

Through our Dental ARCH programs, students have demonstrated an increased understanding of a dentist’s job, the path to becoming a dentist, and general enthusiasm for the field.

  • Without a doubt, opportunities like this have the potential to change our students' lives.” – APS Administrator
  • Fascinating look at a dentist’s job… I had fun and I look forward to coming back!” – Middle School Student
  • I gained a new interest, instead of fear, of the dental profession.” – High School Student
  • The students were so engaged and asked very high-level questions. You could feel how excited they were about the thought of becoming dentists.” – Dental Student

Who to Contact:

If you would like to learn more about Dental ARCH Programs and partnerships, or are interested in participating in an event, please contact: | (303)-724-7122

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