Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Leveling the Playing Field for New Dental Practice Owners
Historically speaking, inequality and bias have existed in the realm of healthcare for
decades—and racism within the field of dentistry has unfortunately been a long-standing norm.
However, as our society continues to evolve and with new focus being placed on leveling the playing field for marginalized communities and professionals alike, a new reality has emerged.
And it is one focused on ensuring that People of Color (POC) cannot only access the dental care
that they need and deserve, but that Dental Professionals of Color also have ample opportunity
to pursue careers in dentistry… and attain the goal of opening and operating their own practice.
In this blog, LenDRgroup Consulting will outline how historical inequity is being addressed and
how diversity in dentistry is now being celebrated.
Breaking Down Historical Barriers
It is true that POC are much less likely to be represented within the dental workforce when
compared to their white counterparts. According to the American Dental Association Health
Policy Institute, there were approximately 200K dentists practicing in the United States in 2016.
Within that number, “73.6% were white, 15.8% were Asian, and 10.6% were of other
race/ethnicities, including Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native.”
And these percentages, frankly, vary widely when compared to the percentages of people who
require dental care in the United States. The same study noted, “In 2016, more than 65 percent
of the U.S. population was white and Asian, while roughly 34 percent of the population
consisted of Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other races and ethnicities.”
The study went on to reference information provided by Project HOPE by the People-to-People
Health Foundation, explaining that underrepresentation of minority dentists can be
problematic based on the following two reasons: “1.) Underrepresented minority dentists have a higher proportion of patients from the same racial background, a concept known as racial concordance. The fewer dentists of color there are, the fewer the resources available for minority patient pools; and 2.) Hispanic and Black populations have more untreated cavities.”
Ultimately, what this information proves is that the need for POC dentists is intense and
required amongst underserved patient populations.
Thankfully, there is a focus on behalf of the American Dental Association (ADA) to up the
number of POC dentists in an effort to bring new services and improve access to communities
that have been historically underserved.
Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Practice Environment
Starting a new dental practice can be an intimidating endeavor—and this reality is amplified if
the dental practice owner also happens to be a POC. There are numerous challenges involved;
not only does a new practice owner want to grow their patient base, but they want to be
trusted and earn the business of patients of all backgrounds and races.
Therefore, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace should be a goal—and these tenets
carry with them a variety of benefits that could contribute to the practice’s short and long-term
DEI initiatives have the potential to:
- Result in higher employee morale. Creating a sense of community for practice workers
can lead to feelings of safety and enjoyment. Representation, after all, matters.
- Improved care for diverse populations. By instilling the importance of DEI in your
practice, the patient base feels recognized, included, and identified with—and
historically underserved populations can feel seen.
- Retention of the best employees. This particular point exists right alongside employee
morale. The happier an employee feels in a workplace, the longer they will likely stay,
which means a practice owner realizes a higher level of ROI.
- Presents a stronger hiring proposition to potential employees. When a practice visibly
showcases its commitment to DEI both amongst patient groups and their employee
population, you have the ability to cast a wider net when attracting talent resources.
- Improved problem-solving. People hailing from varied backgrounds have different
viewpoints and ways of thinking. Having access to a wide range of perspectives can
enable better business operations, address patient needs with more adaptability and
flexibility, and allow your practice to pivot when faced with a new challenge.
Helping POC Practice Owners Harness DEI as a Strategic Business Tool
The team at LenDRgroup Consulting recognizes the historical struggle and the implicit biases
that both POC dentists and patients have faced—and we also realize that while progress has
been made in the areas of DEI, there is still much work that needs to be done. We place
special importance on helping our POC dental practice owners navigate new business territory
and partner with them to ensure they have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to
not only set up and establish a new dental practice but also confirm that practice thrives when
serving diverse patient populations and delivering upon positive oral health outcomes.
And we would love the opportunity to show you just how we work with our very diverse client
base. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter and stay in touch. Of course, for more
assistance as you embark upon your journey of practice ownership, reach out to our team