Factors influencing pediatric dental program directors' selection of residents and demographics of current directors

Robert F Majewski, Marcio A da Fonseca, Eric S Devries, Jan C Hu, Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch
Journal of Dental Education 2009, 73 (3): 338-44
The primary goal of this study was to examine the criteria that influence rankings of candidates by advanced education program directors in pediatric dentistry. Secondary objectives were to obtain information on the resident selection process and to explore demographics of current program directors. A survey was sent in 2005 to all sixty-three program directors of pediatric dentistry residency programs accredited within the United States for the graduating class of 2007. The survey had a response rate of almost 78 percent (49/63). Respondents were requested to rank the importance of eleven factors that are typically included in the selection criteria for pediatric dentistry residents. Factors were rated on a scale of critical, very important, fairly important, somewhat important, and not important. The four highest ranked criteria by program directors were the following, in order: National Board scores, dental school clinical grades, class rank, and grade point average (GPA). Other factors ranked in descending order of perceived importance were the following: dental school basic science grades, experience in pediatric dentistry, extracurricular activities, completion of a general practice residency or advanced education in general dentistry program, the application essay, a publication or professional presentation, and private practice experience. All directors ranked personal interviews as very important to critical. Letters of recommendation from a pediatric dentistry department chairperson or faculty member were viewed more favorably than letters from dental school deans and non-pediatric dentistry faculty. Fifty-seven percent of the directors responding (28/49) were male, and 81 percent (40/49) were white, non-Hispanic. Fifty-nine percent of the directors (29/49) graduated from a residency program over twenty years ago, with 39 percent (19/49) having been a director for less than five years.

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