Performance in credential enhancing masters program facilitates future success in the health professions
This paper examined the critical factors and potential predictors necessary for successful admission to dental school for students participating in the credential enhancing Oral Health Sciences (OHS) master’s program at Boston University. The academic parameters of OHS-DMD and traditional (four year) college graduate DMD students were compared to determine if OHS graduates performed at a comparable academic level in dental school as DMD students who entered dental school without completing a credential enhancing master’s program. To accomplish this, we examined data from students who matriculated to the Oral Health Sciences program from 2006 to 2015 and collected demographic, undergraduate grade point average (GPA), dental admissions test (DAT) scores and Oral Health Sciences GPA from Admissions and Registrar records for our analyses. To compare dental school performance and success on national board exams we obtained data for both OHS-DMD and traditional DMD students who enter the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. We performed unpaired T-tests to evaluate differences in undergraduate GPA, DAT and OHS GPA data for those OHS students matriculating to any dental school to determine what criteria, if any, can be used to predict success. We found that two factors were significant in determining acceptance to dental school: the Oral Health Sciences GPA (3.501 ± 0.301 vs 2.914 ± 0.336, p <0.0001*) and DAT scores (18.380 ± 2.089 vs 17.231 ± 1.833, p= 0.0365*). Comparison of academic performance between DMD and OHS-DMD at BU dental school found that students perform equally as well in Year 1 but dropped lower in Year 2 when comparing GPA (3.40 ± 0.052 vs 3.290 ± 0.259*, p=0.043). Lastly, first attempt fail rates on national board examinations (8.3% + 4.78 vs 7.4% + 5.1, p=0.024) between traditional DMD and OHS-DMD students were reduced however retake pass rates were equivalent (p=0.120). These studies demonstrate that both OHS-GPA and DAT scores are significant factors in successful admission to dental school for those who had been unable to gain acceptance without the credential enhancing master’s program. Additionally, students performing well in the Oral Health Sciences program matriculate to dental school and are nearly as successful academically and on board exams as traditional four-year students DMD. Lastly, in keeping with the original mission of the OHS program, we have been largely successful in allowing underachieving and/or underrepresented minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students to gain acceptance dental school.