Release Date: October 25, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine (SDM) has received the 2023 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
As a recipient of the annual award — a national honor recognizing U.S. health colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UB will be featured, along with 61 other recipients, in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
This marks the second HEED award the dental school has received this fall. In September, UB’s Destination Dental School (DDS) — a program that aims to remove barriers to careers in dentistry for underrepresented students — received the magazine’s 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award.
“We are extremely honored to receive our second HEED award this year,” said Latifa Bairam, DDS, MS, director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Dental Medicine. “I believe this speaks not only to our dental school faculty and staff who warmly welcome individuals from a diversity of backgrounds, but also to the talented students who decide to pursue their dental education at UB.”
The magazine selected UB’s dental school because of unique initiatives it has undertaken, including Destination Dental School, and Support, Training, Early-Career Enhancement and Retention (STEER), a formal mentoring program established in collaboration with the SDM Office of Faculty Affairs that empowers early- and mid-career professionals to accelerate their realization of professional growth and development.
“The SDM Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion aims to address disparities in oral health and health care by training clinicians who are equipped to meet oral health care needs of our increasingly diverse communities,” Bairam said. “We are proud of these accomplishments and are always looking to expand upon them and improve.”
Destination Dental School, which recently graduated its third cohort from across the United States, is free and open to undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students interested in a career in dentistry. The hybrid eight-week summer program provides participants with an understanding of the day-to-day life of a dentist and dental student, helps strengthen their dental school applications and develops their skills as researchers.
Over the past three years, the program has graduated 74 students representing 24 states and 51 colleges and universities.
In July 2023, the STEER formal faculty program was launched, supporting five junior-level faculty fellows and nine senior-level faculty mentors. An allied health staff program will launch in January 2024. STEER’s curriculum includes self-assessment tools, career development plans, mentor meetings and workshops on clinical practice, leadership, professional development and advancement, teaching, research and service.
“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”
Established in 1892, the UB School of Dental Medicine continues to educate general practitioners, specialists and biomedical scientists in the art and science of oral health through its comprehensive accredited programs. It is composed of seven academic departments, 527 faculty and staff members, including volunteers, as well as 408 DDS students and 120 students and residents in advanced education. Along with educating future dental professionals, the school provides oral health services to more than 140,000 patients annually and participates in numerous outreach and education programs.