Foundation series

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ADEA launches initiative to attract more men of color to health professions

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has launched a series of events aimed at developing and implementing solutions to the lack men of color in the academic health professions.

“We are honored that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognizes that ADEA is committed to playing a leading role in addressing this insidious problem: the scarcity of men of color in health professions,” said Sonya G. Smith, Ed.D., JD, ADEA Diversity Officer. “This is an issue that has significant ripple effects as it undermines broader efforts to improve health care in underserved and vulnerable communities.”

The foundation awarded ADEA a base grant of $50,000 to support the work of identifying solutions to assist in the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of men of color in the professions of health.

The data underscores the problem. For example, between 2011 and 2019, the percentage of dental school applicants from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (HURE) increased by only 2.2% on a compounded annual basis. Much of the research on men of color indicates that the disparate outcomes for historically underrepresented men, compared to their female and white counterparts, are the result of systemic and structural challenges that must be addressed through mandates. federal, state and local policies.

The initiative kicked off with an event at ADEA’s 2022 Annual Session and Expo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Held on March 20, the President’s Symposium on Men of Color in Health Professions kicked off the conversation on ways to develop best practices for cultivating student pathways into health professions careers, and identified leadership, mentorship, economics, education, and social justice solutions that serve to empower men of color to enter these professions and thrive.

The symposium brought together a panel of academics, health professionals and other leaders, and attracted more than 200 attendees. The corporate sponsors for the symposium, which featured a keynote address by Freeman Hrabowski III, Ph.D., president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, were RWJF and the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research ( AADOCR).

Following this successful symposium, which largely focused on careers in oral health, representatives from various health profession groups decided to meet again to broaden the scope to include other health professions, to build on the best practices already implemented by the participants and to turn more of their words into concrete actions.

The next meeting is scheduled for August 10-11 and will take place at ADEA’s offices in Washington, DC.

Participants in this invitation-only meeting should tackle three objectives:

  1. Create a mission statement for the collective group,

  2. Develop a strategic action plan for men of color in the health professions, and

  3. Identify three priorities to implement.

This initiative on men of color in the health professions is part of a priority call to action by ADEA President and CEO Karen P. West, DMD, MPH. This call to action “to build a culturally appropriate workforce” is detailed in Slow to Change: HURE Groups in Dental Education, a new report from ADEA that highlights the need to better recruit and retain HURE students. Dr. West and the ADEA Board of Trustees are committed to this initiative for the short and long term.

“We need to engage in difficult discussions regarding anti-racism and carefully examine our related policies, practices and systems to develop strategies that enable students of color to get “on our doorstep, not least through and up through the ranks.” ‘” Dr. West said. said in the HURE report.

Dr. West expressed his gratitude to both the RWJF and the participants of the first symposium in March.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are able to bring together some of the brightest minds in academia and healthcare when it comes to supporting diversity and inclusion. Collectively, we find ways to bring more men of color into our professions,” Dr. West said. “Through these conversations and deliberations, we will learn how to overcome the barriers associated with this goal and ultimately enrich our professions and those we serve with greater representation. I am deeply grateful both to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its support and to the various stakeholders who have taken up the challenge and taken up this challenge.”

About ADEA: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is the voice of dental education. Our mission is to lead and support the health professions community in preparing future oral health professionals. Our members include all 78 US and Canadian dental schools, more than 800 allied and advanced dental education programs, more than 50 societies, and approximately 18,000 individuals. Our activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings and communications, including estimates Journal of Dental Education®as well as ADEA AADSAS dental school application services®ADEA PASS®ADEA DHCAS® and ADEA CAAPID®. For more information, visit

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Kellie Bove
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