How big of an impact does moving to the INBDE have on dental schools and their curriculum?

Sep 21, 2017 | Trends and Analysis

Dental education is moving to a single licensure pathway, the INBDE. Launching in 2020, this new exam represents a major shift in determining whether dental students are prepared for the independent practice of dentistry. This change represents challenges for dental educators and students both, as they seek to adjust to a more integrated exam which includes previously untested topics.

As all dental educators know, a process spearheaded by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) in partnership with the ADEA’s Commission on Change and Innovation (CCI) has resulted in a major change to the way dental students will be assessed for licensure. The goal for the new Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) examination, to launch in 2020, is to rely less on testing of rote knowledge and more on the emphasis of the decision-making process relevant to the safe practice of dentistry through the integration of the basic sciences and dental and clinical science. After the transition period, all dental students will now take a single written licensure examination instead of two. A separate clinical skills examination is still also required for licensure.

In adjusting to this change in the assessment landscape dental schools face a number of challenges. These include to what extent should they be modifying their curriculum to comport to the new exam, particularly in terms of making sure they meet CODA standard 2-6 which require that Biomedical, behavioral and clinical science instruction be integrated throughout the curriculum? Curriculum changes take time, careful planning, and the inclusion of numerous stakeholders. We are having conversations with dental educators to get their feedback on what steps if any, they are taking in response to the transition to the INBDE. Many tell us they are concerned.

An important responsibility for dental schools has been and will continue to be certifying that their students are ready and eligible for the examination. Because curricula vary considerably among schools, and because dental students will soon be taking a single exam, it is more critical than ever that dental schools have evidence-based data to demonstrate their student preparedness. We have had some schools ask for help in assessing students’ underlying knowledge of biomedical concepts and the application of those concepts to clinical scenarios.

We are also having conversations with dental schools around the idea of working together to develop resources for the INBDE. Our goal is to develop a resource or set of resources that both align with the content areas presented on the INBDE as well as support the curriculum activities of each school. We welcome and invite interested stakeholders to reach out to us to have a conversation and to explore what we might do together to prepare for this change.