Licensure Reform: The case for eliminating the clinical exam

Some may argue that progress has indeed been made in the administration of the licensure exam over the last 50 years given that regional testing authorities have increased from two in 1971 to the current number of five.

Although undoubtedly there has been improvement in the uniformity, the ease of test-taking, and the administration of the examination, the traditional mode of testing essentially remains the same.

That is, dentists and dental students in 44 States still have to endure the single-episode/performance-based high-stakes clinical exam, whether it be on patients or manikins. It is striking (and embarrassing) that our dental profession remains the only health care profession that subjects its candidates for licensure to this mode of testing i.e. M.D.s don’t need to perform surgery, nurses and EMTs don’t need to demonstrate CPR or start an IV, midwives don’t need to deliver a baby, and osteopaths don’t need to perform various manipulations, etc.

The bottom-line is that it has been far too long for our profession to continue to endure such an outdated and unfair licensing process.

Dr. Jonathan Nash, who served as the American Student Dental Association chair of dental licensure reform in 1971, and the founder and chairman of the National Council for Improvement of Dental Licensure 1969-73, examines the state of dental licensure reform today and makes a case for bolder solutions to achieve meaningful reform.

Read the full editorial in the New Dentist News.

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