On April 1, a coalition of California dental school deans, CDA and CDA dental student delegates submitted a waiver request to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and the Dental Board of California. The request asked to waive the clinical examination requirement for initial licensure for graduating dental students given that WREB examinations have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 21, DCA responded that "the Department must balance consumer protection with the need to facilitate the continued provision of care to individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak," and that the waiver request could not be granted at this time. While this is disappointing, it seems to be the response that other disciplines with similar waiver requests are also receiving.
On April 29, the second DCA waiver request requesting timely acceptance of the WREB and ADEX manikin-based examinations submitted by the coalition comprised of California dental school deans, CDA, and CDA dental student delegates was denied. The explanation stated that the waiver request could not be granted since DCA does not have the authority to approve examinations. Instead, the letter claimed that it is up to the individual testing agencies to decide whether to offer a different exam format.
On May 14 the dental board convened to discuss whether to formally ask the DCA Office of Professional Examination Services to review the legal defensibility of the new WREB and ADEX mannikin-based examinations. Thanks to the multiple testimonies of coalition representatives, the dental board unanimously voted to have OPES review and submit a report to the dental board executive director as soon as possible.
This vote was a coalition victory as it proved that there is strong support for the alternative exam format from dental board members. Additionally, since WREB and ADEX have already developed modality reports and psychometric validity summaries that have already been submitted to DCA, and because OPES has already shifted its workload to teleconferencing, we are confident that OPES will be able to assemble their review panel of psychometricians as soon as possible.
CDA is now working with dental board staff and DCA to get a better sense of what the timeframe will be for OPES review. Additionally, based on the coalition’s May 1 memo, CDA is continuing to wait for confirmation as to whether any further formal action is needed after receipt of the OPES report in order for dental school graduates to begin taking the mannikin-based exams.
Related article: Manikin-based WREB and ADEX exams will be formally reviewed as pathway to dental licensure
Add your name to our coalition letter before the dental board's May 14 board meeting.